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NATO Iraq plan could satisfy Trump, says US Envoy

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison visits leaders from NATO's Resolute Support Mission and Afghanistan's security forces in Herat, Afghanistan, at Train, Advise, Assist Command - West on Feb. 23, 2018. (Erickson Barnes/Resolute Support Headquarters)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A plan for NATO to expand its Iraq mission by reassigning troops from the anti-IS coalition could satisfy President Donald Trump’s call for more alliance action in the Middle East, the U.S. envoy to the organization said on February 11.

NATO defense ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels this week to discuss a proposal to move some forces from the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group to the alliance’s training mission in Iraq.

Kay Bailey Hutchison welcomed the move, adding that it would enable coalition forces to carry out more combat operations against IS remnants in Iraq.

“It’s part of burden-sharing — our European allies coming in with us and doing more in counterterrorism,” Hutchison told reporters.

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“The NATO operation is already ongoing in Iraq and I think it will definitely be an answer to what President Trump has requested.”

Trump last month called on NATO to do more in the Middle East, days after a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad triggered a regional crisis.

A plan to transfer some coalition forces — who number some 11,000 across Iraq, Syria and Kuwait — to NATO’s structures has already won Baghdad’s backing, according to diplomatic sources.