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Portuguese Police to Leave Iraq

January 15, 2005

LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ Portugal announced Saturday that its 120-member police mission in Iraq, will end Feb. 12, as scheduled.

A government statement said Portugal would continue fully to support its allies in Iraq but in different ways, such as providing humanitarian relief.

``For reasons of operational planning and for an adequate coordination with Iraqi authorities and the multinational task force, the Portuguese government confirms its decision to end its police mission in Iraq on the previously scheduled date of Feb. 12,″ said a joint statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office and the Foreign Office.

The contingent had been scheduled to return to Portugal in November, but the mission was extended until Feb. 12 due to ``Portugal’s need to assist in the electoral process in Iraq within the UN proposed date of Jan. 30,″ the statement said.

One of the government’s proposals for future help is to assist in training the Iraqi security forces.

The Portuguese police, who are under Italian command in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, were first deployed in November 2003. President Jorge Sampaio had refused to send troops without United Nations approval.

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