AP NEWS
Related topics

U.K.: U.S. Requested Troops for Iraq

November 20, 2002

%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:168%)

LONDON (AP) _ The United States has Britain to contribute troops if war erupts in Iraq but no decision has been made, top officials said Wednesday.

British lawmakers are scheduled to debate the Iraq situation next week in the House of Commons. Many are wary of joining a U.S.-led military action to disarm Saddam Hussein.

Prime Minister Tony Blair called the American request a general inquiry, not a specific request, and said Washington has sounded out many other nations in the same way.

``We have received the same general request as everyone else. We haven’t received a specific request in relation to specific troop requirements,″ Blair said during a Commons question and answer session.

The United States has drawn up plans to invade Iraq with up to 250,000 troops if the country doesn’t comply with the U.N. resolution calling on Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction.

Britain is a top U.S. ally, and its air force already routinely joins U.S. warplanes in enforcing the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman refused to give details of talks between Britain and the United States or to discuss the number of British troops requested. The government was engaged in ``contingency planning″ for military action, he said.

Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said the U.N. Security Council should consider whether Iraq has already breached the resolution by attacking British and American warplanes patrolling the no-fly zones this week. U.S. officials have said Iraqi anti-aircraft fire appears to be a violation.

``It is important that we recognize that this is an aggressive, belligerent state as far as our aircraft are concerned,″ Hoon said. ``But it would be a matter for the Security Council to discuss once all the evidence had been amassed.″

AP RADIO
Update hourly