Australia prime minister unexpected visit to Iraq
Iraq-Australia, Politics, 7/26/2005
The Australian prime minister John Howard arrived in Baghdad on Monday in an unexpected visit to Baghdad during which he met with the Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Howard whose country deployed 900 soldiers in Iraq is expected to inspect the Australian forces in southern Iraq.
Howard said yesterday that the Australian forces will continue to remain in Iraq as long as the Iraqi government needs that.
Howard refused to set a date for the withdrawal of his forces, stressing that such a decision depends in particular on the ability of the Iraqi forces to fight armed groups effectively and on progress of the democratic process.
For his part, and in a joint press conference with Howard, the Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari said that the Australian forces play an important role by ensuring security in al-Muthanna city, southern Iraq.
Concerning the file of the Algerian diplomats, the Iraqi ministry of interior said it had detained two suspects and they are currently being interrogated. For his part, one official at the Algerian embassy in Iraq said he was not notified by these acts of arrest. Gunmen kidnapped the Algerian charge de affairs Ali Ba'arousi ( 62 year old) and Ezz Eddine Balqadi ( 47 year old) last Thursday when they were near the Algerian embassy.
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