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8/4/04 - NATO AGREES TO TRAIN IRAQIS - 2004-08-04

NATO has agreed to begin training Iraqi security forces. Under the arrangement, a team of about forty NATO officers will travel to Iraq to conduct the training. NATO will develop additional training programs by mid-September. U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli called the decision “further evidence of allied support for the independence and sovereignty of Iraq and for freedom, democracy, and stability for the Iraqi people.”

There is already significant international support for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. In addition to the one-hundred thirty-thousand U.S. troops there, more than twenty-thousand troops from some thirty countries are helping to establish security in Iraq.

Poland has been especially helpful, commanding a multinational force of more than six-thousand soldiers in southern Iraq. Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said he hoped that Poland could withdraw some of its own troops next year after elections for a transitional Iraqi government. Nevertheless, he made it clear that Poland’s decision would be based on the needs of the Iraqi people and government.

During his recent visit to Poland, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell thanked the government for its assistance in Iraq. By next year, Mr. Powell said, he hopes the security situation in Iraq will improve:

“Iraqi forces over the next six-to-eight months will be building up their capability. And as we go through this period, we will have to examine on a continuing basis what our force requirements are, and work with each of our coalition partners, as they make their individual sovereign judgement, as to what their capacity is to support their presence in Iraq.”

Other countries are providing troops to support the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq: Britain has sent nearly nine-thousand, Italy nearly three-thousand, and Ukraine one-thousand six-hundred. The Netherlands has deployed more than one-thousand soldiers and Japan seven-hundred fifty to help secure and rebuild Iraq. The U.S. and its coalition partners are committed to establishing a stable Iraqi so that a democratic government can take hold.