US thanks South Korea for sending more troops as Iraq interim FM stresses unity
Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed "deep appreciation" to South Korea's foreign minister in a phone call Sunday for the parliament's decision to dispatch 3,000 troops to Iraq, the government said.
South Korea's National Assembly on Friday approved the deployment. South Korea already has 465 medics and engineers in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.
More South Korean troops are expected in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk before the end of April. The deployment - likely to include special forces commandos and marines - will be responsible for security and reconstruction in the area.
Meanwhile, Iraq's interim foreign minister tried to reassure his country's neighbors about his government's commitment to build a united Iraq as officials from its six bordering nations met Saturday in Kuwait City.
The meeting of envoys from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait and Syria plus Egypt is the first one attended by an Iraqi delegate. The group met four times previously to deliberate the repercussions of developments in Iraq on their region.
Before Saturday's meeting, Syria's deputy foreign minister, Issa Darwish said: "Partitioning Iraq would be tantamount to heresy, but the Iraqi people have to decide what is good for them."
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, told reporters that "everybody was worried" Iraq might break up.
But Iraq's Interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told The Associated Press in an interview his country would stay united.
"We understand their fears...we have come to reassure them that the Iraqi people are committed to national unity, to Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said. "No group or faction has any extra agenda to divide Iraq. We are all united to build a democratic Iraq."
A Turkish diplomat and a member of the Iraqi delegation separately told The AP a draft of the final declaration, which the conference will issue Sunday, expresses support for the July 1 transfer of power and condemns the attacks on innocent Iraqis. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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