Iraq asks Australia to help train its spies
Australia, which is already training the new Iraqi police and military forces, has been asked to help train Iraq's intelligence and security officers.
Defence Minister Robert Hill, who has just returned from a fourth visit to Iraq, said he had been asked by Iraqi national security adviser Qassim Da'ud to extend the military training programme to the intelligence community
"Minister Da'ud wants to train a group of new young leaders, possibly within Australia, in the field of intelligence and security, in order to subject them to alternative cultures and a new way of law enforcement that is different to the brutal techniques used by the Saddam Hussein regime," Hill said in a statement.
"Minister Da'ud said one of Iraq's big challenges was to develop a new psychology within the intelligence and security units after three decades of dictatorship."
The request came at the International Institute of Strategic Studies Gulf summit in Bahrain, which discussed progress in Iraq.
"Minister Da'ud also said there were good opportunities for Australian companies to win construction contracts in Iraq in the coming months with a number of major projects about to get under way," Hill said.
They included a major port area being developed in southern Iraq, as well as agricultural, irrigation and salinity projects.
The talks followed Hill's weekend visit to Baghdad, where he met Australian troops and learned at first-hand how dangerous the capital has become.
Hill told The Australian newspaper the escalation of violence ahead of the planned January 30 elections had been so severe that for the first time in four trips he had not been able to visit the centre of the Iraqi capital.