23 Jul 2004

CNMI and Palau confirm support for US role in Iraq

4:11 pm on 23 July 2004

Two United States' territories and allies in the Pacific say they fully support the recent call-up by the US of Army reservists and others for duty in Iraq.

A recent US alert to its Pacific dependencies and allies has put reservists and others on notice in such places as the Northern Marianas, Palau, and American Samoa.

The Northern Marianas Islands says it expects to augment its contingent of about 40 troops in Iraq by a further 83 reservists who have already begun training in Hawaii.

The former US Pacific colony of Palau cannot say how many of its people are serving with US forces in Iraq or in line to go there, but the number represents a significant slice of the island's population of 20,000.

Peter Callaghan, the public affairs officer for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, says it's widely expected that the 83 reservists, who include 30 police, will be sent to Iraq early next year when their training is complete.

He says the 80,000 islanders fully support the commitment, although six weeks ago a soldier was lost.

"Well, I would not be telling the truth if I said there weren't some people right here in CNMI who've questioned the war, but overall I would say that the large percentage of our population thinks that the US has done the right thing in getting rid of Saddam Hussein and that we're doing the right thing to protect Americans and other westerners against future terrorist attacks and we support our president."

Peter Callaghan of the Northern Marianas.