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NATO Agrees to Expansion of Forces Training Soldiers in Iraq

by Mark5019 / December 9, 2004 1:20 PM PST

NATO Agrees to Expansion of Forces Training Soldiers in Iraq

Published: December 10, 2004


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RUSSELS, Dec. 9 - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreed Thursday to increase its forces training soldiers in Baghdad, but six member countries refused to take part, prompting expressions of disappointment and irritation from NATO's leadership and the United States.

"There is a clear agreement to support Iraq on its way to permanent security and stability," Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO secretary general, said. But he added: "With an international integrated military staff, that means all officers should be able to participate. All of the NATO allies should send people to participate in the operation."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was more direct.

"When it comes time to perform a mission," he said at a news conference, "it seems to us to be quite awkward for suddenly members in that international staff to say, "I'm unable to go because of this national caveat or national exception.' "

NATO will expand the training staff in Baghdad to 300 officers from 60 under the pact, which NATO had agreed to in outline in September as part of efforts to field more Iraqi security forces to help ensure safe elections in January. The 60 trainers are from 10 countries, including the United States and Britain.

Mr. de Hoop Scheffer said Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands had agreed to contribute to the enlarged force. Their contingents, will not be enough, and other countries have yet to pledge forces. The six that refused are France, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Spain and Luxembourg.

A senior American official acknowledged that their refusal presented a serious problem. Germans, for example, make up a significant portion of the officers on NATO's international command staff.

Despite a spirited debate over lunch among the foreign ministers, Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, insisted that his
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