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Norwegian officers remain in Iraq

Sist oppdatert:
STORTINGET (TV 2 Nettavisen): Stortinget’s extended foreign affairs committee approved Thursday to prolong the Norwegian staff officers’ deployment in Iraq.

The government got support for prolonging the deployment of the nine staff officers when the Norwegian engineers return home during the month of June. The Norwegian commitment ends June 30.

The government got support from the Progress party, in addition to the government parties.

Stoltenberg critical
Jens Stoltenberg, head of the Labor party, is not pleased with the decision.

«The tidiest thing to do would be to discontinue the presence of the Norwegian military,» Stoltenberg said to the TV 2 Nettavisen.

Stoltenberg criticises the way the government handled the case.

«The process which has lead to this decision has not been handled well enough,» Stoltenberg said, and added that Stortinget should have informed the government before talking to the media.

Petersen ignores the criticism
Foreign Minister Jan Petersen ignores the criticism.

«I completely reject that,» Petersen said to TV 2 Nettavisen. «We have answered questions from the media so openly as we could and made it’s obvious that Stortinget had to be consulted.»

Even if the government got the majority’s support, the Labor party’s opposition was a great defeat. This is the first time in years that the non-socialist parties and the Labor party have not agreed on important foreign policies.

Kristin Halvorsen, head of the Socialist Left party, claims it is surprising that the government not got the support of the Labor party. She said that she thinks the continued commitment of the officers is only attended as a way to show support for the US.

«I can not see any other arguments to have staff officers in Iraq than to express political support for the US,» Halvorsen said after the meeting.

In southern Iraq
The staff officers are stationed at the head quarters at the forces under British command in southern Iraq and with the forces under Polish command further north. It has been made clear that they will remain in the field for at least an additional six months.

The extended foreign affairs committee consists the 15 ordinary members of the foreign affairs committee, in addition to Stortinget’s president and vice president, leader of the defense committee and 11 members from the government parties.

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