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Arroyo Defends Troop Pullout From Iraq - 2004-07-26


Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has rejected criticism of her decision to pull Manila's troops out of Iraq to save the life of a captive Philippine truck driver.

Ms. Arroyo opened a speech today (Monday) laying out plans for her new six-year term by praising the release last week of Angelo de la Cruz, who had been held hostage by militants in Iraq.

The militants had threatened to behead Mr. de la Cruz if the Philippines did not withdraw its small contingent of troops in Iraq ahead of schedule. The United States criticized Manila for giving in to the demand, saying such a move would only encourage more hostage taking.

Ms. Arroyo said, "I cannot apologize for being a protector of my people."

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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