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A House of Councilors committee endorsed a bill Thursday for extending a special law to allow the continued deployment of Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to the Indian Ocean until 2005 to support the U.S.-led antiterrorism operations.

The bill to extend by two years the term of the antiterrorism law, which expires Nov. 1, is expected to clear the Upper House in a plenary session Friday.

Under the law, 22 MSDF vessels have taken part in refueling operations, which involved supplying naval vessels from 10 other countries participating in antiterrorism operations in and near Afghanistan since autumn 2001, the Defense Agency said.

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