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NATO Pledges to Boost Iraq Training Force

NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels have agreed the alliance will boost its training force for Iraqi security forces.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says the number of personnel will increase from its current level of 60 to 300 officers. He says several countries, including Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands have volunteered to provide troops.

Other countries like France and Germany have refused to contribute, saying they do not want the alliance to be drawn into peacekeeping duties in Iraq.

The ministers also discussed expanding the 5,000 strong NATO-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.

At a separate meeting, the NATO ministers and their Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, urged Ukrainians to work to ensure a free, fair and violence-free process in the upcoming run-off presidential election.

The NATO meeting was the last for U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is leaving the Bush administration.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.