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Last Philippine troops to leave Iraq on Monday
Updated: 2004-07-18 14:44

The Philippines said on Sunday its remaining troops will leave Iraq on Monday to save the life of a Filipino hostage threatened with beheading unless the country pulls its humanitarian contingent out of Baghdad.

The remaining members of the tiny Philippine police and military contingent in Iraq are to withdraw on Monday, Foreign Secretary Delia Albert, announced. [AFP file]
"The remaining members of the Philippine humanitarian contingent are finalising the turnover of their responsibilities," Foreign Affairs Secretary Delia Albert said in a statement.

She said Philippine Ambassador Roy Cimatu would accompany them in an exit call on the new Polish commander in Iraq on Monday.

"After the call, the remaining contingent will then proceed to Kuwait and from there return to Manila by commercial flight," she said."

Arrangements for their return flight were being made by the Philippine embassy in Kuwait, the official said. The exact date and time of arrival of the troops in the Philippines would be announced as soon as details were available.

The government said on Saturday that 11 of its 51-member humanitarian contingent had already arrived in Kuwait from Iraq and were expected to reach Manila on Monday afternoon, a move the Philippines hopes will appease the captors of Angelo de la Cruz.

All the troops had been scheduled to leave on August 20, but the date was advanced to satisfy the kidnappers.

De la Cruz said in a message he would be returning home, Arabic channel Al Jazeera said on Thursday. But the group holding the father of eight said it would free him only after Manila withdrew its last soldier.

Washington sought to persuade Manila not to cave in to the militants holding de la Cruz. Some analysts said the pullout would severely strain Manila's relations with the United States.

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