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19.4.2003 18:44 MSK

Azerbaijan sending 150 troops to guard holy sites in Iraq

BAKU. April 19 (Interfax) - A company of 150 Azerbaijani soldiers will guard Muslim holy sites in the Iraqi cities of Qerbela, Qirkuk and Mosul, Azerbaijan's defense minister said on Saturday.

"Azerbaijan is also ready to carry out other tasks in Iraq as part of operations for the postwar reconstruction of the country," Safar Abiyev told reporters.

"At present this entire set of issues, including the date of the Azerbaijani military unit's departure for Iraq, is being discussed with the leadership of the coalition forces.

"At the very start of the Iraqi operation, a representative of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry was delegated to the U.S. and has permanently been at the coalition forces headquarters to coordinate joint actions." [AZ EUROPE EEU EMRG IQ MEAST ASIA VIO DIP US GB WEU] as aw <>


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