updated 6/28/2004 7:29:21 AM ET 2004-06-28T11:29:21

NATO leaders agreed Monday to help train Iraq’s armed forces, responding to a request from the incoming Iraqi government.

“We have decided today to offer NATO’s assistance to the government of Iraq with the training of its security forces,” said a statement adopted in the opening session of the NATO summit

The decision came hours after the United States transferred power in the country to the Iraqi administration.

A statement called on alliance officials to “urgently” discuss details of the training plan with the Iraqi authorities. NATO said it would also urgently consider “further proposals to support the nascent Iraqi security institutions.”

NATO’s eastward march

Also, alliance leaders agreed to expand the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, raising the level of troops to 10,000 during the September elections from the current 6,500.

“Contributing to peace and stability in Afghanistan is NATO’s key priority,” the leaders said on the opening day of their summit.

Officials said the expansion would include four more permanent peacekeeping teams deployed in northern cities, as well as a temporary increase in troops levels to provide security during the elections.

The alliance peacekeeping mission is currently limited to the capital, Kabul and the northern city of Kunduz.

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