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No Plans to Send Troops to Iraq, say Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - 2003-10-19

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia said they do not intend to send troops to Iraq under current conditions. Crown Prince Abdullah condemned extremist violence.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, said that unless all Muslim nations decide jointly to send peacekeepers to Iraq, no Saudi troops will be sent.

He said that even the U.S.-installed Iraqi Governing Council is unsure about accepting more foreign troops, given its recent opposition to Turkish forces on Iraqi soil. "The issue is by no means clear that the Governing Council itself wants troops from outside," the foreign minister said.

Even if the Governing Council does ask for troops, he added, questions remain about the Iraqi people accepting the armies of other Muslim countries on their territory.

"The Governing Council is an appointed council. Needless to say, we have accepted its representation of Iraq in [the Organization of] the Islamic Conference. But still, some concrete proof of the wishes of the Iraqi people has to be achieved," he explained.

The United States has been asking other nations, including Pakistan, to add their soldiers to the U.S.-led coalition deployed in Iraq.

Pakistan has said it could not send peacekeepers, without a United Nations resolution calling for such action. The U.N. Security Council passed such a resolution last week, but Pakistan is indicating that sending its troops would be difficult.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said, even with the new resolution, his country would be hard-pressed to send forces to Iraq.

"We spoke of a U.N. resolution, but we also made it clear that we have a particular situation in Pakistan, as far as our home situation is concerned," Mr. Kasuri said.

Mr. Kasuri cited domestic concerns, such as keeping Afghan insurgents from crossing into Pakistani territory. Afghanistan and Pakistan share a lengthy border, where insurgents are said to pass back and forth between the two countries.

The Pakistani and Saudi Arabian foreign ministers spoke at a news conference Sunday, organized as part of a Saudi state visit to Pakistan.

On Saturday, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah met with Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.

Following the meeting, Prince Abdullah called for all Muslim nations to recognize extremist terrorism as their mutual enemy. He said terrorists are attempting to undermine Islamic civilization as a whole.