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IRAQ: US Allies

Support for Iraq occupation erodes among US allies: South Korea will send only non-combat troops to Iraq to support the US-led occupation.The government would soon inform the US of its decision to send up to 3'000 non-combat troops to Iraq, MBC TV said, citing diplomatic sources.

Seoul, which already has 700 medical and engineering personnel in Iraq, had agreed to commit additional troops to Iraq, but has yet to officially decide whether to send combat personnel, as Washington has urged.

Meanwhile, Thailand will not withdraw its 443 engineering and paramedical troops from Iraq, despite calls to bring them home as the death toll among occupation troops rises, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. A group of senators had petitioned him to pull the Thai troops out the restive Shi'ite city of Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad. A third of the 200 members of Thailand's Senate urged Thaksin to order a withdrawal after a powerful car bomb exploded outside a Kerbala hotel, killing at least two people. Thai soldiers are part of the Polish-led 10.000 strong multinational division.

Spain, a close US ally, said it had recalled civilian staff from Iraq after the bloody attacks on foreign targets. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said some embassy staff, as well as Spaniards working with the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), were being recalled. The Spanish media have persistently criticised a lack of security at the Spanish embassy in Baghdad. Miguel Benzo, a senior Spanish official working with the CPA, told El Mundo newspaper" (Reuters, 11/6/03).

The serious loss of Italian life has led to a call for the withdrawal of Italian personnel, but, like Bush, Blair and Aznar, Berelusconi has rejected the appeal.

Ronald Hilton - 11.16.03