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Jordan Willing to Send Troops to Iraq - 2004-07-02

King Abdullah of Jordan says he is prepared to send troops to Iraq, if the new interim government there asks for them. The king made the offer during an interview with British television.

Jordan could become the first Arab country to send troops to Iraq, if the new government takes up King Abdullah's offer.

The Jordanian leader said the newly installed Iraqi administration is made up of strong and courageous people, who need international help to deal with what he called "their major problem" of insecurity.

"Now that there's an Iraqi interim government, and we hope a fully independent process very soon in Iraq, I presume, if the Iraqis ask us for help directly, it will be very difficult for us to say no,? King Abdullah said. ?My message to the president and the prime minister is, 'tell us what you want.' Tell us how we can help, and you have 110 percent support from us. If we don't stand with them, if they fail, then we all pay the price."

The king said he had not discussed the matter with Iraqi leaders, and there was no immediate reaction from the Iraqi government to the king's comments.

The now defunct Iraqi Governing Council had rejected the idea of admitting troops from neighboring countries, including an offer last year from Turkey.

King Abdullah admitted his position has changed on the matter. He said he had previously ruled out any military role for Jordan because of its history with Iraq.

The king did not elaborate, but Middle East experts recall that Jordan suffered diplomatic isolation and economic recession when it remained neutral in the 1991 Gulf war, which ended Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, but left Saddam Hussein in power.