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Bolstering Iraqi forces best way to counter Daesh — NATO chief

NATO will coordinate actions with Baghdad

By Mohammad Ghazal - Feb 13,2020 - Last updated at Feb 13,2020

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference during a NATO Defence Ministers' meeting in Brussels on Thursday (AFP photo)

BRUSSELS — Enabling Iraqis to fight the Daesh terror group is the best solution to stop the return of the extremist organisation, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference following a meeting of the North Atlantic Council Defence Ministers' session in Brussels, Stoltenberg said: “Training local forces is one of the best weapons we have against ISIS [Daesh].”

He said that the Iraqi forces “have proven that they are capable of fighting Daesh”.

The alliance chief said that NATO will follow up on developments in close consultation and coordination with the Iraqi government, based on its invitation. 

“Every step we take will be in consultation and based on invitation and only when we are welcomed by the Iraqi government,” he said.

“We will also, of course, consider to step up. But those are decisions we have to take later on, based on developments,” he said.

NATO, he said, is already in the wider Middle East region with its training mission in Iraq, and its presence in Afghanistan. 

“We work closely with countries like Jordan and Tunisia, helping them with intelligence, special operation forces. This is both about military activities, but also political support and cooperation with countries in the region.”

The alliance chief said that NATO has had “a very good and constructive dialogue” with countries in the region and with the government of Iraq.

Touching on Libya, the NATO chief noted that the alliance is not present in the war-ravaged country.

“We strongly support the UN-led efforts to find a peaceful negotiated solution. And that’s the message from NATO and from NATO allies,” he said.

Stoltenberg said that NATO is ready to help Libya with capacity-building measures if it is requested.

The alliance chief hailed the recent Berlin Conference on Libya, noting it as an important initiative to get the peace talks and the political process moving.


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