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US Hopes? Nations Keep Troops in Iraq Past June

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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-04 12:08 AM
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US Hopes? Nations Keep Troops in Iraq Past June
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Faced with an eroding military coalition, the United States said on Friday it hoped several nations would keep their troops in Iraq past their July deadline for withdrawal.
But Norway immediately rejected the appeal, indicating its 180 troops would leave after an interim Iraqi government takes power June 30.

Three countries announced this month they are pulling out their troops, totaling roughly 2,000, in the face of worsening violence. And the coalition could crumble further because several nations have committed only to staying until the U.S. occupiers transfer power to the Iraqi government.

In interviews with media from coalition countries on Friday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he hoped Norway, the Netherlands and El Salvador, who have almost 2,000 troops in Iraq, would stay longer than planned.

The top U.S. diplomat hoped a new U.N. resolution the United States was drafting would persuade some nations to extend their tours of duty. "With a new U.N. resolution it might be possible for Norway to take another look at the contribution they have made to this effort and perhaps make another contribution or extend the stay," Powell said in one of the interviews.

But Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen responded, "We must follow our original plan, of a commitment until the summer."

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