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Germany

Germans to Train Iraqi Soldiers

Members of Germany's military will train Iraqi soldiers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), making Germany the first NATO member to do so after the alliance agreed on training programs at a meeting in June.

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They might work with German soldiers soon

Germany's Bundeswehr will train several dozen Iraqi soldiers as car mechanics, and teach them how to construct roads and bridges as well as clear explosives, Financial Times Deutschland quoted German government officials as saying.

The Bundeswehr has also sent 100 five-ton trucks to the UAE to be used during the training. The Gulf state will adapt the vehicles to the region's desert climate before they will eventually be brought to Iraq.

Germany is paying for the trucks and trainers, while the UAE is covering travel and accommodation costs for the Iraqi soldiers.

"This agreement was possible because we have always stuck to a clear position," Thomas Steg, the government's deputy spokesperson, told the paper, adding that Germany has always opposed US plans to send NATO soldiers to Iraq.

During the alliance's various negotiations, US officials had originally insisted that NATO soldiers would come to Iraq under American leadership. France had rejected that idea, saying that such a step would drag NATO members, who had opposed the invasion of Iraq, into the conflict.

Germany has also offered to train Iraqi soldiers in Germany, but government officials in Baghadad have so far not taken Berlin up on the offer, Steg said. Earlier this year, experts from Germany's Federal Criminal Police already trained about 230 Iraqi police officers in the UAE. That program is scheduled to continue in the fall.

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