My honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bill Rammell) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The House will be aware from my previous Statement on 22 October that the UK-Iraq agreement was approved by the Iraqi Council of Representatives last month. The Iraqi Presidency Council has now also ratified the agreement, and on 22 November our embassy in Baghdad received a diplomatic note from the Government of Iraq confirming that their constitutional procedures are now complete.
My right honourable friend the Defence Secretary wrote to Opposition spokesmen and the chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee in September to explain our intention to bring the agreement into force as soon as the Iraqi Government were ready. Our agreement with Iraq on training and maritime support has now entered into force.
Training of the Iraqi Navy has been paused since June, and it is right that we resume this activity as soon as possible. It is vital that the Iraqi Navy quickly develop the capacity to protect their territorial waters and the offshore oil platforms on which their economy is so dependent. Our Royal Navy trainers have therefore returned to Iraq, and our ships have re-entered Iraqi territorial waters. Both tasks are being undertaken alongside our US colleagues.