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Japan plans early Iraq exit as Powell regrets UN speech
Sept. 9, 2005

Japan intends to begin consultations to extend the mission of its forces for humanitarian work in Iraq beyond the Dec. 14 deadline with a view to pulling them out before next summer, Japanese media reported Friday.

The period of extension is likely to be set for one year and the government will make the final decision on when to withdraw the troops after considering political developments in Iraq, government sources said, according to Kyodo News Agency.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said he would decide on whether to extend the mission after Iraq's referendum on a new Constitution in October and subsequent developments.

Meanwhile, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in a television interview to be broadcast Friday that his U.N. speech making the case for the U.S.-led war on Iraq was "a blot" on his record. In the February 2003 presentation to the Security Council, Powell made the case for war on the regime of Saddam Hussein, offering "proof" that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction.

 It's a blot" on my record, Powell said in an interview with ABC News. "I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and it will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now."

© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)