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Japan Pulling Troops From Iraq

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (file photo) (AFP) June 20, 2006 -- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has announced plans to withdraw Japan's troops from Iraq.

The decision comes a day after the prime minister of Iraq said Iraqi forces will take over security operations in areas where Japanese troops are stationed.

Japan's Security Council released a statement today saying that Japan's mission in Iraq "has been accomplished."

Since early 2004, Japan has had some 600 soldiers in southern Iraq. The humanitarian, noncombat mission has been Japan's biggest international military operation since World War II.

Meanwhile, Australia will redeploy 460 troops protecting Japanese forces in southern Iraq.

Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson said Australian forces will help Iraqi forces secure the country's border with Syria. He said the reassignment will happen when Japanese forces withdraw from

Australia has some 1,300 troops stationed in and around Iraq.

(AP, AFP, Reuters)

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