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    Georgia to send more peacekeepers to Iraq in mid-July

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    TBILISI, June 27 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia will send servicemen to a new military base near Baghdad on July 14, as part of Tbilisi's commitment to more than double its peacekeeping contingent in Iraq, a deputy defense minister said Wednesday.

    The South Caucasus nation's parliament approved on June 8 President Mikheil Saakashvili's initiative to increase the number of Georgian peacekeepers in Iraq from 850 to 2,000.

    Tbilisi's third brigade to be sent to the country, totaling 2,000 servicemen, will be involved in peacekeeping operations in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, Levan Nikoleishvili said.

    Two battalions of Georgian peacekeepers have been previously deployed in Baghdad and Baaqub as part of U.S.-led coalition forces, but were recently transferred to the military base in Kut.

    By sending more troops to serve in Iraq, Georgia hopes to prove that it can contribute to global security and become a legitimate NATO member.

    The former Soviet republic, which has a staunchly pro-Washington government, has voiced its ambitions to join NATO ever since the current Georgian leadership came to power after the "rose revolution" of 2003.

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