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Pakistani PM May Send Troops to Iraq

July 29, 2004

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain discussed the possibility of creating a ``Muslim force″ to help bring stability to Iraq during a visit to Saudi Arabia last week, a senior official told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Saudi leadership was reviewing the proposal and was expected to convey its decision to Islamabad this week.

``They are discussing this proposal,″ he said, adding that no decision had yet been reached.

The Foreign Ministry had no official comment on the talks between Hussain and the Saudi leadership, which took place last Thursday. Hussain has since returned to Pakistan.

It was not clear under what auspices such a force would work, but it was likely to come under the umbrella of the United Nations. A senior Pakistani diplomat was named earlier this month as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy to Iraq, though Pakistan has to date pledged no troops to any peacekeeping effort.

An Iraqi insurgent group on Wednesday announced that it had killed two Pakistani men kidnapped in Iraq, saying they were slain to press Pakistan not to send troops. Pakistani officials have steadfastly denied having made any decision on troops.

Pakistan and oil-rich Saudi Arabia have close ties and they consult regularly on regional and international issues. The senior official said other Islamic countries are also being consulted about troops.

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