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    SDF Iraq deployment [practically] extended

    The extension of the SDF deployment in Iraq looks like a done deal–this Nikkei report is a little firmer than the last one I saw yesterday:

    At the Japan-US meeting between heads of state on 16 November, Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi revealed, for all intents and purposes, that the deployment of SDF personnel in Iraq, which comes up against its existing end date in December, will be extended. The extension is based on a judgement that, since other countries contributing to the multi-national force will keep their troops stationed there, the US will not be understanding if Japan alone withdraws. However, the UK and Australian forces that serve as escorts for the SDF are set to be withdrawn in May of next year. The [US] president expressed appreciation for Japan’s support; the prime minister, in the meantime, is already looking to set a withdrawal date.

    “Japan, as a member of international society, must continue to support Iraq towards its goal of standing on its own.”

    With that roundabout utterance, the prime minister conveyed to the president that the troop deployment would be extended.

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