Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Wednesday said he would ask the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to provide a mission to improve his country’s defense capacity, the alliance said in a statement.
Mr. al-Abadi made the request in a meeting Wednesday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of a gathering of ministers in Brussels from the coalition fighting Sunni extremist group Islamic State.
NATO said in September it was prepared to resume some kind of mission in Iraq if the Baghdad government requested it.
A NATO official said it could be a mission aimed at training and advising Iraqi security forces and wouldn’t necessarily be run from Iraq. If approved, it would likely take some months to get a team on the ground.
Once a formal request comes in, NATO would send a team to Iraq to assess the needs and work out what support it could provide. A proposal could then go to NATO’s main political and decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, where representatives of all 28 NATO allies sit.
From 2007-2011, NATO ran a roughly 300-strong police and army training mission in Iraq, but left when U.S. forces exited the country because a legal agreement protecting its forces from prosecution wasn’t extended. At the time, NATO said it was open to continue helping Iraq.