Iraq battle mission is ruled out

Greece will not send combat troops to Iraq even if the UN agrees to send an international peacekeeping force to boost the US and British occupation army there, the government said yesterday. «If the UN is given [greater] responsibility in Iraq, with the prospect of the Iraqis taking over their country’s fortunes in the near future, Greece will obviously lend political support to this effort within the European Union,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. «As to operational forces… our standing principle is not to send combat troops, and this principle has not changed.» «There are many ways in which [military personnel] can contribute to the general reconstruction of Iraq, much in the way [Greek troops are contributing] in Afghanistan.» Around 180 Greek military personnel, mainly sappers, are stationed in Afghanistan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said Athens «views as positive recent developments in the discussions on a more active UN involvement in the civil process of reconstruction and establishing security in Iraq.»

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