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Pakistan and Saudis Await Iraqi Invite

October 20, 2003|From Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Facing opposition from Muslim conservatives, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan said Sunday that they would be reluctant to send troops to Iraq without a clear invitation from the Iraqi people.

The United States wants to broaden the occupation forces in Iraq, especially with soldiers from Muslim nations. Washington has turned to Pakistan in particular with a request for at least 10,000 troops.

"If the people of Iraq ask for help, Pakistan as a brotherly country will do what it can. But we will wait for that to happen," Pakistan's foreign minister, Mian Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, said at a news conference with his Saudi counterpart.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al Faisal, said it was premature to talk about sending troops to Iraq until it is clear that Iraqis want them.

"The express opinion of the Iraqi people has not been shown to us, and until that time ... we will not send any troops," Saud said.

The comments came four days after the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution urging all U.N. member states to contribute money and troops for Iraq's reconstruction. Pakistan currently holds one of the rotating seats on the 15-nation council.

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