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U.S.welcomes Japan troops for Iraq

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The United States welcomed Tuesday Japan's decision to send as many as 1,000 troops to help in reconstruction of southeastern Iraq.

The troops, which would be comprised of land, sea and air elements, would represent the biggest Japanese troop deployment abroad since World War II.

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"We welcome the commitment," said White House Spokesman Scott McClellan. "We continue to encourage more participation in our efforts in Iraq. This is a welcome announcement."

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet Tuesday on Tuesday gave the nod to a plan to send forces to southeastern Iraq to help restore essential services and provide medical and humanitarian aid.

It was not disclosed when the deployment would begin.

Troops from some 33 countries -- about 24,000 in all -- are currently in Iraq helping U.S. and British forces which are still facing daily hostile action from Saddam Hussein loyalists and terrorists.

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