President of Iraq visits NATO, welcomes assistance

During a visit to NATO this week, Interim Iraqi President Sheikh Ghazi Al-Yawar has welcomed the assistance offered to Iraq by the Alliance and called for further help urgently.

The visit came as NATO's North Atlantic Council is discussing the details of how the Alliance will support Iraq with training of its security forces and other technical assistance.

In June this year, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed to assist Iraq with training of its security forces. A NATO Training Assistance Implementation Mission in Iraq was established on 30 July and has already begun training selected Iraqi headquarters personnel in Iraq.

Further measures are now being discussed by the Council to expand the training mission, and to develop further options for supporting the development of Iraqi security institutions.

The President briefed the Council, the Alliance's principal decision-making body, on the political and security situation in the country.

Sheikh Al-Yawar stressed the urgency of training and equipping Iraqi security forces, particularly as Iraq prepares for elections, scheduled for January 2005.

“Definitely we want to have a secure and safe environment so that Iraqis can cast their votes without being intimidated or fearing anybody,” he told reporters after the meeting.

This was the first visit by Sheikh Ghazi Al-Yawar to NATO. It follows a previous visit by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on July 13 2004, the first ever visit by a senior Iraqi official to NATO.


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