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Archive for Thursday, September 23, 2004

NATO plans academy to train Iraqi officers

September 23, 2004

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— NATO allies agreed Wednesday to expand the alliance's training mission for Iraqi armed forces after allaying French concerns which had delayed the plans for a week.

NATO is expected to send about 300 officers into Iraq to set up and run a military academy outside Baghdad, broadening the mission that began last month with the deployment of 40 NATO instructors.

"Today's decision by NATO to establish a major collective training program marks a major step by the alliance," said Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO. "The United States is proud to undertake with its allies a significant expansion of the mission."

The agreement represents a compromise between the United States, which wanted NATO to shoulder more of the burden of building up Iraq's armed forces, and France, which initially objected to any alliance presence in Iraq, then sought to keep the mission low profile.

Allied officials could not say yet when the mission will start or how many Iraqi officers would be trained at the academy.

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