Manila says no change in Iraq troop pullout plan


The Philippines said today it has no plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq earlier than its scheduled August 20th pullout, as demanded by Muslim militants holding hostage a Filipino truck driver.

A militant group in Iraq threatened to behead the captive, Mr Angelo de la Cruz (46),  if Manila did not commit to pulling out its troops by July 20th.

"In line with our commitment to the free people of Iraq, we reiterate our plan to return our humanitarian contingent as scheduled on August 20th, 2004," Filipino foreign secretary Ms Delia Albert told a news conference.