Members of NATO Agree to Help Train Iraq’s Security Forces

All the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, NATO, have agreed to help train Iraq's security forces. France Germany and other countries which opposed the war in Iraq will not do the training there, however, they'll limit their contribution to out-of-country sessions, or just funding.

Even so, President Bush praised the alliance's unity on the decision. President Bush and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop appeared at a news conference following Tuesday's formal meeting of the 26-nation military alliance. "The atmosphere was excellent, and that was the way it should be, because what binds us are the values - we'll discuss them, we'll have differences of opinion, yes, from time to time - but there is a lot more we agree upon and that is the bottom line," de Hoop said.

The Secretary General invited the President to attend the summit following Mr. Bush's re-election victory in November. At their joint appearance the President acknowledged that tensions in the alliance, resulting from disagreements about the war in Iraq, were at the center of the discussions. But he said, "The key now is to put that behind us and to focus on helping the new democracy succeed. It's in your country's interest, it's in my country's interest that democracy take hold in the greater Middle East." And in that area, the President said, the outlook is hopeful. "Twenty-six nations sitting around that table said it's important for NATO to be involved in Iraq. That's a strong statement, and NATO is involved in Iraq, and NATO is doing a vital mission which is to help an officer corps emerge."

Currently, 15 NATO members are providing troops, training or financial aid to the new Iraqi government. Mr. de Hoop says of the summit, "It was an excellent summit - it was an excellent idea of the President to come here, to have this summit here and now, because there is a daunting and challenging task and a daunting and challenging agenda waiting for NATO."

President Bush remarks, "All in all the meeting was really important, I'm really glad I came. It gave me a chance to say that the relationship between the United States and Europe is a vital relationship, a necessary relationship, an important relationship, and our relationship within NATO is the cornerstone of that relationship. You know after all NATO is the most successful alliance in the history of the world. Think about that - the most successful alliance in the history of the world."

All 26 NATO members took part in the summit at alliance headquarters. Most of the heads of government in attendance, along with President Bush, later met with the EU.

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