European countries that bitterly opposed American policies in Iraq are showing signs they want to warm relations with the United States, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell said Sunday after NATO agreed to train Iraq’s armed forces.

The former Democratic Senate leader from Maine said on NBC’s “Today” show that NATO’s European members recognize it’s in their interest, as well as that of the United States, to “patch up the differences that developed over the war in Iraq and to look to the future.

“And so, I think this is a reasonable compromise for both sides,” Mitchell said.

He was interviewed hours after NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the western alliance’s mission to train Iraq’s armed forces will involve NATO instructors working both inside and outside of Iraq in a sign of united support for its incoming government.

Mitchell, who brokered the 1998 Good Friday accord aimed at bringing peace to Northern Ireland, said he sees progress in repairing relations with European nations that opposed the U.S. war in Iraq.

“I think we’re moving now to get the governments, all of them, fully behind the policy in Iraq now that the war is past,” said Mitchell, adding that he believes popular support will follow.

The former senator said the Bush administration characterizes opposition to the war policy as Europeans disliking America, but he believes their disapproval is focused on the administration itself.

“There’s still a deep and wide reservoir of good feeling toward the United States and its values throughout Europe and other parts of the world,” Mitchell said.

Asked about his outlook just days before the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis, Mitchell said he expects violence in that country to continue.

“I think getting NATO involved and the support of the European Union are significant steps in the right direction,” Mitchell said.

“They all recognize that whatever their differences over going to war, that’s over and now everyone has a common interest in a stabilization and building a democracy in Iraq,” Mitchell said.


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