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The U.S. has asked Japan to send a contingent of up to 20 civilians, including diplomats, to Iraq for a new reconstruction project there after Self-Defense Forces troops are pulled out, according to government sources.

Britain has meanwhile decided to start preparations for its troop withdrawal from the southern Iraq area of Samawah in mid-April, one month later than initially expected, which may affect Japan’s plan to withdraw its Ground Self-Defense Force contingent from the area from mid-March through May, the sources said.

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