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Denmark to open embassy in Iraq this autumn before taking NATO mission lead

Denmark is to open an embassy in Baghdad this autumn before it takes the helm of NATO’s anti-Islamic State (ISIS) mission in Iraq, the Danish foreign affairs ministry announced on Thursday.

“We must be present where Denmark benefits most from it – and where we can best promote our values and foreign and security policy interests. That is why we want to open a Danish embassy in Iraq,” Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod said in an official ministry statement on Thursday.

“With the opening of an embassy in Iraq and the Danish leadership of NATO’s mission in Iraq, the already robust Danish efforts in the region will get a further boost,” Kofod added.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s training mission in Iraq began in October 2018, and is currently led by Canada. Last November, Denmark offered to take charge of the mission for an 18-month period, beginning in December 2020.

Danish parliament in June approved Denmark’s temporary lead of the mission in Iraq, as well as the deployment of 285 military personnel to train and advise Iraqi security forces fighting what remains of ISIS.

ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017. However, remnants of the group continue to wage a low level insurgency, conducting ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted killings.

NATO’s training mission, which sought to support the country’s armed forces to better fight ISIS, involved around 500 troops.

After the US assassination of Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3 of this year, Iraq’s parliament passed a non-binding resolution demanding the expulsion of all foreign forces, and the NATO operation was placed on hold.

Iraq decided later in January to review its security relationship with the US-led Coalition – an 82-country alliance supporting Iraqi and Peshmerga forces with training, equipment, and air cover since 2014 – by attempting to reach a new security agreement with NATO. In the new deal, foreign troops would remain in Iraq under NATO control. Their role would be limited to training and advising Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS, and they would no longer be permitted to carry out ground operations against the terrorist group.

NATO said in February that troops from the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh (ISIS) were being shifted to NATO’s own mission. Source