Saturday, September 24, 2005

Australia to withdraw Samawah force

"THE Federal Government has distanced itself from reports it has told Japan it will withdraw Australian troops protecting Japanese military engineers in southern Iraq by May next year.

Japan's Kyodo news agency today reported Japanese government sources had said Australia and Britain had informed them they planned to pull out of the southern Iraqi city of Samawah, where Japanese forces are involved in humanitarian and reconstruction work, by May.
It said Tokyo would look at pulling out its troops in line with the Australian and British moves.

Australia has not given a definite timetable for withdrawal, however when the Government deployed 450 troops to the region earlier this year to protect Japanese personnel it said the initial deployment would be for 12 months.

Defence Minister Robert Hill is currently overseas and his spokesman could not confirm the Japanese report.

However, he said a withdrawal in May next year was in line with the Government's commitment."


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