Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 13:00 UK

UK navy forces to return to Iraq

Royal Navy marines
The Royal Navy personnel are expected back in Iraq next month

British naval personnel are to return to Iraq to train local forces, Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell has said.

The announcement comes after politicians in Baghdad passed legislation allowing their return.

The six-year British military mission in Iraq ended on 30 April this year with all UK personnel withdrawn in July.

The Ministry of Defence said that the navy personnel would be back in Iraq next month.

Mr Rammell told the Commons it was agreed "training activity should resume as soon as possible".

In a written statement, he said: "The government intends to notify the Iraqi government within the next few days that the UK is ready to bring this agreement into force."

Between 100 and 150 British service personnel withdrew to Kuwait in July after the Iraqi parliament failed to ratify an agreement allowing them to remain.

Training of the Iraqi Navy has been paused since June and it is important to resume this activity as soon as possible
Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell

The MoD has indicated that about the same number of Royal Navy personnel would return.

Mr Rammell told MPs in a written statement that the British and Iraqi governments had reached an agreement on naval training and maritime support on 15 June.

This agreement received its third reading on 13 October and will come into force once both sides have completed their parliamentary procedures and exchanged diplomatic notes.

Mr Rammell said: "Training of the Iraqi Navy has been paused since June and it is important to resume this activity as soon as possible to ensure that they quickly develop the capacity to protect their own territorial waters and the offshore oil platforms which are so vital to Iraq's economic revival.

"A prompt resumption of training would allow our Royal Navy trainers, who have been held at readiness since June, to return to the tasks that they are so adept at delivering."



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