No More Estonian Troop Units In Iraq - Defense Ministry
TALLINN, Estonia (AFP)--Estonia has decided not to send a fresh
troop contingent to Iraq, ending the involvement of units of up to
40 soldiers in the U.S.-led international mission in Iraq since
June 2003, Estonia's defense ministry said Thursday.
"We did not come to an agreement with the Iraqis regarding the
question of legal guarantees for Estonian troops," Peeter Kuimet,
spokesman to Estonian Defense Ministry, told AFP.
"We wanted similar legal terms for our soldiers to those enjoyed
by U.S. troops under the U.S. Status of Forces Agreement with
Iraq," Kuimet said.
Estonia's last troop contingent returned home from Iraq in
mid-December and a fresh contingent was expected to have been
deployed this year.
"Estonia's military mission in Iraq is closed and we have had no
unit in Iraq this year and will not send the new one," Kuimet
"There are three Estonian officers in Iraq at the moment among
the NATO Training Mission-Iraq and they will stay in line with the
agreement made between NATO and the Iraqi government," he
Late last year Estonia's parliament had formally extended its
mission in Iraq, but said it needed to strike an agreement with
Baghdad to provide a sound legal basis to continue their
Estonia, an ex-Soviet Baltic republic that joined the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization and the E.U. in 2004, was among the
few states that had offered to keep a military presence in Iraq in
It first sent troops to Iraq in 2003, when U.S.-led forces
ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.
The troops operated under a U.N. Security Council mandate which
expired at the end of 2008.
The Iraqi cabinet has approved a bill calling for foreign troops
to end their missions by the end of May and pull out definitively
by the end of July.
Covered by the U.S.-Iraqi security pact, U.S. forces are an
exception and are due to leave in 2011.
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