Norway’s incessantly globe-trotting foreign minister, Børge Brende, turned up in Iraq on Monday along with Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, where they met with Kurdish and Norwegian military leaders in the northern city of Erbil. The ministry reportedly received good feedback regarding Norway’s contribution to military training efforts.
Special forces from the Norwegian military are stationed in Baghdad, with an equally large contingent from Norway’s Telemark batallion stationed in Erbil. They’ve been in place for around three months and their mission is to train Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers to be better prepared to fight Islamic insurgents in the area.
“We’re sending our best soldiers to Iraq,” Søreide told news bureau NTB, which had a reporter along on the trip. “The soldiers themselves say that they are benefitting from the operational experience they have from international operations in the past, like in Afghanistan.”
Brende and Søreide met Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani along with the Iraqi-Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. In addition to issues related to the defense cooperation, they also discussed the ongoing wave of refugees pouring into Iraq from Syria and those fleeing brutal IS militants within Iraq, who now number around 1.8 million. Brende has promised more Norwegian financial aid to help Iraq help the refugees.