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    SDF deployment extension approved by cabinet

    The cabinet has officially voted to extend the SDF deployment in Iraq:

    The Cabinet on Thursday approved the extension of the Self-Defense Forces’ mission to assist reconstruction in Iraq for a year beyond next Wednesday’s deadline.

    “We decided to extend the mission for two reasons: Iraq is on its way toward establishing a democratic government, and the U.N. [Security Council] has unanimously decided to extend the deployment of multilateral forces there,” Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a news conference after the Cabinet meeting.

    The new basic plan for the SDF’s Iraq mission states that the troops’ mandate will expire on Dec. 14, 2006. But it also indicates the deployment can be shortened should Australian and British forces providing the Japanese personnel with a security umbrella decide to pull out.

    Prior to the Cabinet meeting Thursday, Koizumi had a series of meetings with leaders of coalition partner New Komeito and opposition parties to obtain their understanding in extending the Iraqi mission.

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