In a statement that didn't make any references to the early handover of sovereignty to the interim government, Nato leaders declared their decision to offer assistance "to the government of Iraq with the training of its security forces. We encourage nations to contribute to the training".
The NATO leaders also agreed to expand the alliance's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan by sending in more than 3,000 troops to bolster security for elections scheduled in September, and setting up permanent military teams in four more cities, reports ft.com. NATO agreed to end its peacekeeping operation in Bosnia after nine years, handing responsibility for the mission to the European Union at the end of the year.
Iraq dominated the summit, which opened as the U.S.-led administration handed over power to an Iraqi government 48 hours ahead of schedule in a surprise development apparently aimed at preventing insurgents from disrupting the transfer.
But differences were evident even over the scope of the military training operation. France and Germany erstwhile opponents of putting NATO troops in Iraq rejected U.S. hopes that a training mission could become a high-profile alliance presence in the Iraq, quotes themoscowtimes.com.
"It is not in the mission conferred upon NATO, so it won't happen," said French President Jacques Chirac. "Any trace of NATO on Iraqi soil was considered as inopportune." Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder both said they would be sending no military instructors to Iraq, insisting any training would be outside the country. "There will be no military engagement of our own, no German soldiers in Iraq," Schroeder told reporters. He said Germany would provide army training facilities besides its ongoing work of instructing Iraq police officers in the United Arab Emirates.
NATO leaders were united in welcoming the decision to hand power to the Iraqis. "We are naturally delighted. In my eyes, the return of Iraq's sovereignty is a necessary condition although, alas, not sufficient, for restoring peace," said Chirac who added he'd learned the news from President Bush on Monday morning, cites abcnews.go.com.
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