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Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 16:20 GMT
Hungary approves Iraqi training
Hercules aircraft prepares for an aid-drop mission to Bosnia
Taszar base was used for logistical support in Bosnia
Hungary has given permission for the United States base at Taszar to be used for the training of Iraqi opposition members.

Up to 3,000 people from Iraq and other Arab countries will start arriving next month at the US base, 200 kilometres (120 miles) southeast of Budapest.

They are being groomed to take part in a possible successor administration to that of President Saddam Hussein.

The training is primarily theoretical, which means military and civil relations, interpreting and translating, and theoretical training for military police

Zoltan Gal
Government spokesman
Hungary's permission for the use of the base is valid for the whole of 2003, but only two rounds of training lasting no longer than 90 days each is allowed.

Hungarian Government spokesman Zoltan Gal told reporters that the Iraqi trainees would not take direct part in combat operations.

"The training is primarily theoretical, which means military and civil relations, interpreting and translating, and theoretical training for military police," he said.

Briefing members of parliament, Hungary's Foreign Minister, Laszlo Kovacs, said the US would cover all the costs of the programme.

Local concerns

Up to 1,500 American personnel will provide support for the training. Trainees will not be allowed to leave the base.

US soldier
The base will be protected by the US military

Local people are concerned that the use of the Taszar base as a training ground for Iraqi opposition could affect the region's security.

The Mayor of Kaposvar, the nearest town to the Taszar base, Karoly Szita, said he is concerned his town could become "a terrorist target".

Hungarian Defence Minister Ferenc Juhasz has given assurances that the base will be protected by the US military, in addition to security measures by the Hungarian army, police and secret services.

The base at Taszar has been used by the United States as a logistical support centre for peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Hercegovina since 1995.

 VOTE RESULTS
Iraq: Is war inevitable?

Yes
 58.14% 

No
 41.86% 

74035 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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10 Dec 02 | Middle East
08 Dec 02 | Middle East
22 May 99 | Europe
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