U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testifies to the House Armed Services Committee on "The National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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The United States is renewing pressure on its European NATO allies to establish a long-term train-and-advise mission in Iraq, diplomats said, reviving a divisive issue for an alliance wary after a decade in Afghanistan. U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis sent a letter to NATO headquarters in January calling for a formal NATO mission to Iraq with a semi-permanent or permanent command to train Iraqi forces, according to five senior NATO diplomats.While NATO does have trainers in Iraq already, they number less than 20 .NATO defense chiefs will provide ministers with a range of options for an Iraq mission, while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has discussed the issue with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who supports a mission, diplomats said.The United States has more than 5,000 troops in Iraq.Iraq would need to formally request the NATO mission, diplomats said.
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