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The Conflict in Iraq

Danes to Keep Troops in Iraq

June 03, 2004|From Associated Press

COPENHAGEN — Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to extend by six months the deployment of Denmark's nearly 500 soldiers in southern Iraq.

In a 92-11 vote, lawmakers backed the government's plan to keep the 496 Danish troops in Basra and nearby Qurnah, 250 miles southeast of Baghdad. Seventy-six lawmakers were absent. The 179-seat Folketing, or parliament, had been expected to extend the deployment.

During the final debate, the left-wing parties led by Villy Soevndal of the Socialist People's Party assailed the opposition Social Democrats for throwing their support behind the governing coalition.

In March 2003, the Social Democrats opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein because there was no United Nations mandate.

Jeppe Kofod, a senior Social Democratic lawmaker, said the party now was backing the government's plan to "help win the peace in Iraq."

The Danish contingent that arrived June 2003, which also includes 54 troops from Lithuania, is under British command.

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