NATO approves Iraq training mission

NATO countries have agreed to send an advance team of officers to Iraq to prepare for training the troubled country's security forces.

    The decision to train Iraqis was taken at a summit in June

    Setting aside a dispute between France and the US over who should command the training mission, 26 NATO envoys on Friday announced that a team of 40 officers would be sent to Iraq very soon.

    NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the team would "get right to work".

    "Today, the North Atlantic Council reached an agreement on the establishment of a NATO training implementation mission in Iraq, Scheffer said.

    Political control

    The mission tasks include "establishing appropriate liaison arrangements with the Iraqi interim government and the multinational force".

    They would also cover working with the Iraqis "to develop their structures, in particular in the ministry of defence and military headquarters".

    "The training mission will be a distinct mission, under the political control of NATO," the secretary general said. "It will be closely coordinated with the multinational force'.

    The decision to rush the team in came after three days of tough talks in Brussels.

    The US wanted the training mission to come under the US-led occupation forces, but France opposed that.

    NATO envoys finally postponed until September any decision on who gets to head the mission.

    The Atlantic alliance had agreed in principle at a summit in Istanbul in June to provide training to Iraqi forces, but its leaders left details to be hammered out later.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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