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 Danish nationals advised to avoid visits to Iraq except Kurdistan 

 Source : DPA
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Danish nationals advised to avoid visits to Iraq except Kurdistan  28.6.2007

June 28, 2007

Copenhagen, Denmark, -- The Danish foreign ministry Thursday advised Danish nationals to avoid travelling to Iraq with the exception of Kurdistan autonomous region of the three Kurdish provinces Duhok, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.

Danish nationals should also refrain from non-essential trips to the three northern provinces, the advisory said, citing the risk for terrorist acts and kidnappings.

The advisory was issued as the Danish contingent in southern Iraq have begun packing equipment and supplies in preparation of their withdrawal in August.

A Danish officer in charge of intelligence at the Danish camp questioned if Iraqi forces were prepared to take charge of security.

'In my personal opinion, the Iraqi army has come three fourths of the way,' Torsten Lind Thomsen told a reporter from news agency Ritzau who visited the camp near Basra, saying the Iraqi forces needed more equipment and training.

News of a roadside bomb that killed three British soldiers in Basra Thursday suggested that security remained volatile.

The conservative chairman of the Danish parliament's defence committee Tom Behnke was more confident about the timing of the withdrawal.

'We are withdrawing after an agreement with Iraqi authorities, parliamentarians and in consultation with British troops,' he said.

Behnke added that Thomsen's assessments would be considered.

Karsten Nonbo of the ruling Libral Party told Ritzau that the 'there will be times when we feel that we pulled out too early.'

The some 400-strong Danish contingent were due to leave in three stages from August 1 with the last group leaving on August 18.

Denmark would have some military presence in southern Iraq since it has agreed to deploy four helicopters and retain some 50 troops until January 2008.

In a related development, the centre-right government and the Danish People's Party said they had clinched a deal allowing 15 of 22 Iraqi interpreters who had helped Danish forces to seek refuge in Denmark.

'Close' family members would also be allowed to come. Several interpreters have expressed fears over their security after the Danish forces leave Iraq.



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