Thai prime minister vows to keep forces in Iraq despite fatalities
Thailand's prime minister vowed Sunday to keep his country's forces in Iraq despite calls from the opposition for a withdrawal following Saturday's death of two Thai troops in the southern city of Karbala.
"We will continue to work for humanitarian ends ... The next batch of troops are preparing and making themselves ready. They are ready to go to Iraq as scheduled. Nobody has changed their mind, their morale is still good," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters.
According to The AP, he added the two soldiers were "brave," standing guard even after military officials received intelligence reports suggesting there would be an attack. "We honor them and will take good care of their families. They will be compensated," Thaksin added.
The killed soldiers were identified as Sgt-Major First Class Amporn Chukerd and Sgt-Major First Class Mit Klaharn, both of whom belonged to the Army Engineering Corps, and were stationed at the camp's entrance.
Army commander-in-chief General Chaisith Shinawatra last night called an urgent conference of military top brass, The Nation reported.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Kraisak Choonhavan, an outspoken opponent of the decision to deploy the troops in Iraq, said Thai soldiers are not safe there and should not have to "sacrifice their lives for nothing."
"I have called several other senators who have supported my idea of making another request to the government to withdraw from Iraq," he told reporters.
Opposition Democrat MP Tavorn Sennem said the Thai government had been warned earlier that it should not send forces to Iraq because the mission did not have a United Nations mandate. According to The Nation, Tavorn urged the government to bring the troops home. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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