Washington, 9 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Washington would welcome participation by troops from France, Germany, and other countries in a multinational stabilization force for Iraq. Rumsfeld told a U.S. Senate committee today that the goal of the Bush administration is to get a large number of troops from many countries into the stabilization force.
France and Germany, which opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, have suggested they will not contribute troops to any force in Iraq unless it is authorized by a new UN Security Council resolution. The Bush administration has rejected the idea of a major UN role in Iraq.
So far, the U.S. has managed to muster pledges of 9,200 soldiers for one multinational division to be headed by Poland due to be deployed by September. Most countries contributing to that division are to join NATO in its next phase of enlargement. Britain also plans to head a multinational division that would draw upon some 10,000 of its troops already in Iraq.
Rumsfeld also told the U.S. legislators today that despite daily U.S. casualties in Iraq, much of Iraq has been pacified. "There seems to be a widely held impression that [Saddam Huessin's Ba'ath Party] regime loyalists are operating freely throughout the country, attacking coalition forces at will. That is clearly not the case. Large portions of Iraq are stable," he said.
The United States currently has about 150,000 troops in Iraq and another 100,000 soldiers posted in nearby countries.