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Japan still plans to send Self-Defense Forces units to Iraq despite a United Nations decision to remove staff from Baghdad amid the deteriorating security situation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Friday.

According to the government’s top spokesman, while 60 U.N. workers will withdraw from Baghdad on “temporary leave,” some 4,000 U.N. workers will remain in other parts of Iraq to carry out humanitarian assistance.

“At a time when many U.N. staffers are working for Iraqi reconstruction, we must cooperate ourselves, and we plan to offer assistance,” Fukuda said.

The government is working on the specifics of Japan’s aid measures and the location of an SDF dispatch.

A fact-finding team has reported that the security situation in the southern part of Iraq is relatively stable, adding that that Ground Self Defense Force units could provide water, relief materials and medical assistance there.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said that SDF units should be sent to Iraq by year’s end, but the exact timing of the dispatch has yet to be decided as the government is still assessing security conditions.

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