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    Japan may extend SDF deployment in Iraq

    Japan says Iraq has asked it to maintain its non-combat SDF presence in the reconstruction past the current December end date:

    Iraq has asked Japan to extend its noncombat mission of troops in the southern part of the country beyond its expiration in December, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday.

    Koizumi, in a debate with the leaders of five other major political parties in Japan, said that the government had not yet made a decision about whether it would extend the mission, which is opposed by many in Japan.

    “Japan has received an official request to extend its presence in Iraq,” Koizumi said.

    “So we will continue to monitor the situation there, and make a comprehensive decision on the issue based on realities within the country, the opinions of the Iraqi people, U.S.-Japan relations, and Japan’s responsibilities in the international community,” the prime minister said.

    Japan has about 550 troops in the southern city of Samawah on a humanitarian mission to purify water, rebuild schools and other tasks.

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