US says may not need to order diplomats to Iraq

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WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) The US State Department said today it may not need to force diplomats to serve in Iraq as enough staff have volunteered to go to the war zone.

Last month, the department said it might have to order some diplomats to Iraq, where many foreign service officers are reluctant to work because violence still rages four years after the US-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein.

Because of a lack of volunteers, the State Department had roughly 50 spots at the US Embassy in Baghdad and at joint US military-diplomatic provincial reconstruction teams around the country that it could not fill.

''It appears that we are getting very nearly to the point where we will have volunteers for all of the open, identified jobs,'' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. ''We have candidates identified for all the jobs.'' The possibility that the department might order some of its people to Iraq had upset US diplomats, including one who publicly called this a ''potential death sentence.'' Reuters PY DB2234

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