NATO will not extend its training mission in Iraq beyond the end of the year because Baghdad would not grant its soldiers immunity from prosecution, Iraq's national security adviser told AFP on Sunday.
"NATO surprised us with this decision," Falah al-Fayadh said in an interview aboard a flight transporting Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to Washington.
"We are sorry that NATO has advised that it will withdraw its mission from Iraq... because immunity is something that is out of the government's reach," he added, saying Baghdad was informed of the decision on Thursday.
Fayadh added: "I would have preferred that there would be cooperation with NATO in other aspects, and not only through its mission in Iraq, and I was hoping that this mission would stay."
On November 29, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq was studying a contract to extend NATO's presence in Iraq beyond year-end, but noted that such a deal would not grant its troops immunity from prosecution.
NATO said last year that it was open to extending its training mission beyond 2011, with Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, one of its commanders in Iraq, saying that "can be possible".
(c) 2011 AFP