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David Miliband(Archived), London
Iraq will always be divisive in British politics but I hope the announcement today of a new defence agreement will be widely welcomed. UK troops are leaving but we will maintain support for the Iraqi military . Today our Baghdad embassy representative signed an agreement with the Iraqi Defence Minister on future defence cooperation with Iraq. Once the agreement is ratified by both countries - hopefully later this month - the UK will provide training for the Iraqi navy around the port of Umm Qasr, as well as helping the Iraqis to protect the nearby oil platforms. We will also increase our defence section at the embassy in Baghdad, and provide training in the UK for Iraqi officers.
Engagement at economic level is growing. So is cultural and educational engagement. Now the military relationship can be put on a stable basis.
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Sometimes eurosceptics are thought to have good tunes because they are the only ones humming. On reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the European Union's financial management there is a pro-European case for reform. But the truth is that these problems are not the fundamental reason for no votes in referenda on Europe - there are bigger questions about the purpose and direction of the EU. This is what I tried to address in my speech last night.
Security and defence policy is a hard case and a good case for thinking about the appropriate European role. NATO is the foundation of security but does not act everywhere and needs civilian and policing complements. But defence policy is a core national authority so this is a matter for intergovernmental work not the "community method". On this French and British thinking is similar. What we need are capabilities to act where NATO doesn't (e.g. Bosnia today) or where it needs partners (e.g. Kosovo).
It's not frightening - it's sensible.
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