NATO approves training mission in Iraq, new command structure

(From L) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May and US President Donald Trump arrive for a working dinner at The Parc du Cinquantenaire - Jubelpark Park in Brussels on July 11, 2018, during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit.

Brussels: Despite disagreements between the US and its allies regarding defence spending, NATO leaders approved here on Wednesday new initiatives to strengthen the alliance, including the creation of new commands and the deployment of a training mission for Iraqi forces.

"We have had discussions. We do have disagreements. But most importantly we have decisions that are pushing this alliance forward and making us stronger," Xinhua quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying during a press conference at the end of the first day of the NATO Summit taking place in Brussels.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that there are still many disagreements within NATO, soon after President Donald Trump reiterated his complaint that most NATO member-states are still far from the goal of devoting 2 percent of their GDP to military spending.

Current estimates show that eight NATO countries will achieve that goal by the end of the year.

"In the history of NATO, we have had many disagreements. And we have been able to overcome them, again and again. Because at the end of the day, we all agree that North America and Europe are safer together," Stoltenberg said.

In their joint declaration, NATO leaders confirmed that that they "will share fairly the responsibilities of defending each other."

"We are committed to the Defense Investment Pledge (the 2 per cent of GDP target) agreed in 2014, and we will report annually on national plans to meet this pledge," the NATO heads of government said.

Among the achievements of Wednesday's session are the approval of a new mission in Iraq to help train troops, as well to provide more support to countries such as Jordan and Tunisia, where Spain has offered to lead the training mission.

The member-states also agreed that the existing operations center in Naples will coordinate activities in NATO's Southern Flank.

In addition, the leaders agreed to expand the command structure with new commands for the Atlantic, in Norfolk, Virginia, and for support and logistics, in Ulm, Germany.

A new Cyber Operations Center at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium, will also be inaugurated.

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