BRUSSELS - NATO denied an assertion by Iraq's national security advisor on Dec. 11 that it had decided to withdraw its mission there at the end of the year after Baghdad refused to grant it legal immunity.
"There hasn't been a decision yet," an official at NATO headquarters in Brussels said, while acknowledging that the question of the mission's legal standing was an issue.
"When they ask us to extend the mission, we need to see that the same legal framework will extend as well," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"We remain hopeful that a solution will be found and that we'll be able to say yes to the Iraqi request to extend our mission, based on the legal framework that we (have) had since 2009," the official added.
The official was responding to remarks earlier on Dec. 11 by Iraq's National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh who said the decision had already been taken, because Baghdad had refused to grant the force legal immunity.
The failure to agree on immunity from prosecution closely mirrors Iraq's refusal to grant U.S. soldiers similar protections earlier this year.
That sank a potential deal between the two countries to keep U.S. soldiers in the country beyond the end of the year.