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6/30/04 - NATO AND IRAQ - 2004-06-30

The leaders of the twenty-six member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, have agreed to help Iraq’s interim government. At a summit in Istanbul, Turkey, it was announced that NATO will assist in training the Iraqi army. Iyad Allawi, Iraq’s interim prime minister, had asked for NATO’s assistance.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO’s secretary-general, says that the details have yet to be worked out:

“How this training is going to be worked out, I do not know yet, is the Iraqi government, and only the Iraqi government who’s going to decide finally what’s going to happen, and not a NATO capital or NATO as such.”

NATO’s decision to help the Iraqi people, says President George W. Bush, is an example of Iraq’s interim government gaining international support:

“The United States and our coalition partners are helping prepare Iraqis for the defense of their country, and we appreciate NATO's decision to approve Prime Minister Allawi’s request for assistance in training Iraqi security forces. We’re helping Iraqis rebuild their country’s infrastructure, and Iraq will continue moving toward free elections.”

President Bush says Iraq’s efforts to make progress are being attacked by foreign terrorists and thugs of the former regime of Saddam Hussein:

“The terrorists know they face defeat unless they break the spirit and commitment of the civilized world. The civilized world will not be frightened or intimidated. And Iraq’s new leaders have made their position clear. Prime Minister Allawi recently said that ‘the insurgents are trying to destroy our country, and we’re not going to allow this’.”

The Iraqi people are prepared to fight in defense of their sovereignty. President Bush says the U.S.-led coalition “respects that spirit and the Iraqi people will not stand alone.”