Vol. 5 Num 64 Fri. July 30, 2004  

Nato battles for accord on Iraq mission

Nato diplomats continued intensive negotiations yesterday to resolve differences over a pledge to train Iraqi security forces, hoping to overcome resistance notably from France, diplomats said.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) leaders agreed in principle at a summit in Istanbul last month to provide such training after the handover of powers to Bagdhad from the US-led coalition.

But they left details to be hammered out, and France is notably standing firm in rejecting a Nato mission in Iraq itself, pressing for training to take place outside the war-scarred country, diplomats say.

One Nato official was upbeat after a first meeting of ambassadors Thursday morning.

"They are narrowing down the outstanding issues," he said. "We feel optimistic that it is possible to reach an agreement today, at the latest Friday," he said.