U.S. asks Arab allies to send forces to Iraq

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The United States has urged its Arab allies to send military forces to Iraq.

U.S. officials acknowledged that the Bush administration has contacted several Middle East countries in an effort to contribute to a military force in Iraq. They said the countries have been assured that the soldiers would serve in a United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping force in Iraq.

So far, officials said, the State Department has discussed the issue with at least five Arab League members. They identified the members as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.

Egypt, Jordan and Oman were said to be considering the U.S. request. But the countries said they would first examine the security situation in Iraq after June 30, when Washington was scheduled to hand over sovereignty to a new Iraqi government.

Arab League sources confirmed that several members have been approached by Washington to contribute troops to Iraq. The sources said the issue was discussed along the sidelines of the Arab League summit in Tunis, which ended on May 23.

Arab League secretary-general Amr Mussa said Arab states would require a UN mandate to consider the deployment of troops in Iraq. Mussa said the issue of Arab sending forces to Iraq was not formally discussed at the Tunis summit.

But Arab League sources said UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has been discussing the issue of Arab troop deployment in Iraq with Mussa.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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