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Since 1st March, 1999
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US Marine chooses son to war

Los Angeles, March 28 (Reuters): US Marine and new mother Corporal Jennifer Washington has decided to ask for a discharge rather than abandon her baby to go fight in Iraq, Marine Corps officials said.

Washington, a mechanic engineer whose Marine sergeant husband was deployed to Iraq in January, received deployment orders this week.

“I told them I can’t go and that I have a four-month-old son. They said, ‘No, you’re going anyway.’ Somebody in my command advised me that I can give up my child for adoption. I said ‘Oh no, that’s not going to happen’,” Washington said. She could not find anyone to care for both her mother and son, the Marine said.

Officials at Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, where Washington is based, said she had applied for a humanitarian discharge but could not say how long the process would take.

Marriage plea

London (Reuters): A British soldier serving in Iraq, sent away before hearing his girlfriend’s answer to his marriage proposal, popped the question again on television on Friday, after the ministry of defence tracked him down. Corporal Adam Holmes, 29, who penned his proposal in a local newspaper before he left, asked his childhood sweetheart via satellite link on GMTV: “Will you marry me' Because I love you from the bottom of my heart.” In the studio, Caroline Nesbitt, 27, said she was delighted to accept after not having had the chance to reply the first time round.

Howard hint

Canberra (AFP): The Iraq war is progressing more slowly than expected because of efforts by coalition forces to minimise civilian casualties, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on Friday. Howard said people who believed the war would have been won in a few days misunderstood the nature of armed conflict. “I believe in all the circumstances (it is) going extremely well,” said Howard, who declined an invitation from George W. Bush to attend the summit between the US President and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday.

Warship allies

Washington (Reuters): The US and France may not agree on war but they see eye-to-eye on an old warship. French ambassador Jean-David Levitte will visit the state department’s elegant Treaty Room on Monday to sign an accord on the French warship, La Belle, which played a key role in the 17th century exploration of what is now Louisiana and Texas before sinking in the Gulf of Mexico. Under the agreement, the US will recognise La Belle as French property while France will transfer its custody to the Texas Historical Commission for a renewable 99 years.

Scribes appeal

Washington (Reuters): US daily Newsday has appealed to the Red Cross and the Vatican for help in finding its two Baghdad-based journalists, who have not been heard from since Monday, its editor said. Reporter Matt McAllester, the Newsday’s former West Asia bureau chief, and photographer Moises Saman last made contact with the newspaper on Monday, just before, witnesses said, they were rounded up with about eight other foreign-based journalists for expulsion from Iraq.

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