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Showdown with Iraq

Australia Expects to Join War

March 17, 2003|From Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia — Participation of this country in a war with Iraq is growing "more likely," Prime Minister John Howard said today after a telephone briefing from President Bush on Sunday's summit in the Azores.

At a news conference in Canberra, the capital, Howard said Bush did not make a "formal request" to Australia to participate in military action. "But I would expect ... that that request would be received in the very near future," he added.

Howard called a Cabinet meeting for tonight to discuss the situation before Parliament sits Tuesday.

"There could be military conflict before the end of the week," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.

Australia has 2,000 soldiers in the Middle East but has not formally given them the go-ahead to join any strikes.

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