x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

US insists Iraq police training will continue

The US Embassy in Baghdad insisted yesterday it had no plans to shut down a multi-billion-dollar police training programme that it said was a "vital part" of its civilian mission here.

BAGHDAD // The US Embassy in Baghdad insisted yesterday it had no plans to shut down a multi-billion-dollar police training programme that it said was a "vital part" of its civilian mission here.

Responding to a New York Times report that the US may phase the programme out, the embassy did not comment on the newspaper's claims it would reduce the number of police advisers to just 50 or address charges that it spent US$100 million (Dh367m) on a facility it will no longer use.

"Despite a New York Times report to the contrary, the US Embassy in Baghdad and the department of state have no plans to shut down the police development programme in Iraq that began in October 2011," an embassy statement said.

It said it would return a Baghdad Police College annex to Iraqi authorities, thereby relocating US police advisers to the heavily fortified embassy and generating "considerable cost savings".

"The police development programme is a vital part of the US-Iraqi relationship and an effective means of standing by our Iraqi friends as they protect their sovereignty and democratic institutions from internal and external threats," said the embassy spokesman, Michael McClellan.

The Times reported that new plans called for the number of police advisers to be reduced to 50, from what was originally envisioned as a cadre of 350.