U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has awarded medals of valor to six Salvadoran soldiers who saved the lives of several Coalition Authority officials in Iraq.
In San Salvador Friday, Mr. Rumsfeld praised the men, who helped repulse a heavily armed ambush on a convoy near the holy city of Najaf in March.
He also thanked Salvadorans for their contribution to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Despite protests at home, President Antonio Saca has refused to pull his country's soldiers out of Iraq. El Salvador is the only remaining Latin American or Caribbean country with troops serving in Iraq.
After departing San Salvador, the defense secretary travels to Nicaragua and Panama. His trip concludes next week with a meeting of defense ministers from the Americas in Quito, Ecuador.
Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters.