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NATO Mission Chief Says Alliance in Iraq for 'Long Term'

26 August 2004 -- The head of NATO command in Iraq said today that alliance troops will stay in the country "for the forseeable future" and that operations could be expanded in September.

Major General Carel Hilderink of the Netherlands told a news conference that NATO is on a "long-term implementation mission" in Iraq to provide "advice and consulations" to the Iraqi Army and security forces.

The mission chief said NATO's contingent of 57 officers from 12 countries had already set up a headquarters in Baghdad and various stations in other cities since arriving two weeks ago.

The mission has until 15 September to deliver a report on its progress. NATO headquarters in Brussels will then decide whether to expand operations in Iraq.

The 12 member countries involved are Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Britain, and the United States.