US asks Turkey, Pakistan, S Korea asked for troops
BRUSSELS: The United States has asked Turkey, Pakistan and South Korea to send a total of up to 40,000 troops to Iraq as part of a global US drive for help to secure the country still wracked by violence, officials from the nations said.
The recruiting by US President George W Bush's administration is aimed at enlisting more foreign soldiers to relieve the burden of the 140,000 American troops spearheading the Iraq occupation force in a country where US-led forces are coming under frequent attack.
While some nations consider sending troops if there is a new UN resolution authorising a multinational force, others are unwilling to help because of political differences with the Bush administration, internal troubles or a lack of available forces.
Even Turkey, Pakistan and South Korea face internal opposition to the deployment.
India, for example, has armed forces of over 1.3 million, and had been expected to be a major contributor, but Defence Ministry officials now say a surge in violence by Islamic militants in Kashmir means Indian troops will be tied down there.
Indian officials declined to say how many troops Washington wanted from them. Other nations, from supporters of the Iraq war such as Australia and Spain, to war opponents like Canada and Germany have ruled out adding to the peacekeeping force.
In Moscow, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has said sending Russian troops isn't yet on the agenda.
But his failure to rule it out has prompted speculation Russia could participate, partly to ensure it has a stake in Iraq's oil interests.
[Source: The Times Of India, Associated Press, 20Sep03]
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