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. Hungary to await US election outcome to decide on Iraq troop extension
BUDAPEST (AFP) Oct 19, 2004
Hungary will wait until after the US presidential election to decide whether it wants the country's troops to stay in Iraq beyond their current mandate, which expires in December, Defence Minister Ferenc Juhasz said late on Monday.

"The Hungarian government will only submit its recommendation to parliament on the extension of the Hungarian participation in Iraq after the US presidential election," Juhasz told public television.

The government declined to comment specifically on how the outcome of the US vote on November 2 would influence Hungary's military presence in Iraq, where Budapest currently has 300 troops, mostly logistics experts.

NBut a spokesman said the US election was was one of several factors that the government would consider before deciding whether to seek an extension of the Hungarian military presence in Iraq.

"Other factors include whether Hungarian troops can help ensure a peaceful election in Iraq planned for next year, what the security situation will be in that country and whether the Iraqi government will ask for our troops stay longer," defence ministry spokesman Istvan Bocskai told AFP.

A two-thirds parliamentary majority is needed for an extension of the Hungarian troop presence in Iraq, which means the ruling Socialist-Liberal coalition would need the support of the conservative opposition parties to obtain approval for such a move.

Opposition parties have called for the return of the contingent and a vast majority of the public opposes the Hungarian presence in Iraq.

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