Gulf allies rebuff U.S. on troops to Iraq

Monday, September 8, 2003

ABU DHABI The Gulf Cooperation Council has refused a U.S. request to send troops to Iraq.

GCC officials said the six-member alliance has rejected a U.S. appeal to send troops to help stabilize Iraq. The officials said the members have not established policy on the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

"There is no intention to send troops," GCC secretary-general Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah said.

Al Attiyah told the Saudi daily Al Riyad that the GCC does not plan to discuss the issue of a Gulf Arab force, Middle East Newsline reported. He said the GCC might consider joining a United Nations-sponsored force in Iraq.

"We expect the UN Security Council to come out with a resolution setting out a timetable for the period of stay of the allied forces in Iraq," Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani told GCC foreign ministers on Sunday in Jedda.

In February, the GCC sent a 10,000-man military force to Kuwait to protect the sheikdom against Iraq. The Peninsula Shield force, in its first major mission since its establishment nearly 20 years ago, was ordered to limit operations to Kuwait and not join the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The GCC has welcomed the formation of a new Iraqi Cabinet, Al Attiyah said. He said such a step would help Iraq restore security in the country.

Last week, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates pressed the Arab League to recognize the new Iraqi government. Many Arab League members, whose foreign ministers met over the weekend, have refused to do.

Later this week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was expected to launch a Middle East tour. Armitage was expected to appeal to Arab leaders to contribute forces to help stabilize Iraq.

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