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Azerbaijan: Parliament Approves Iraq Peacekeeping Force

Baku, 7 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijan's parliament today approved overwhelmingly the deployment of 150 peacekeepers to Iraq. Ramiz Najafov, an official from the Defense Ministry's International Cooperation Department, said the measure was approved by a vote of 92 to two.

He said the unit will participate in patrols, law enforcement, and protection of religious and historical monuments.

Najafov said the contingent from predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan is to arrive at a U.S. base in Kuwait on 12 May. He said the unit will be stationed in Kirkuk, Karbala, Mosul, and Najaf.

Later today in Sofia, Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov is to present the cabinet with a plan to send 450 soldiers to Iraq by mid-June to serve as peacekeepers. Svinarov said the Bulgarian force would likely be deployed to a sector that will probably be led by Poland.