- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2003

MANILA, Philippines, March 24 (UPI) — The Philippines Monday said it was expelling two Iraqis, including a diplomat, for espionage in line with a request from U.S. President George W. Bush for countries to expel Iraqi diplomats.

There was "some evidence of espionage" against the two Iraqis, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said.

The two people were not identified, but Arroyo said one was a diplomat and the other a non-diplomatic member of the Iraq Embassy staff.

Last Friday, Bush asked more than 60 nations to expel Iraqi diplomats and sever ties with the Arab nation. The United States, Britain and Australia are at present fighting to disarm Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of suspected weapons of mass destruction and to replace him.

Arroyo said, however, he country will not sever ties with Baghdad.

"So we're in fact bending over backward in a show of friendship to the people of Iraq that we are expelling only those with some evidence of espionage," she said. "We're doing it individual by individual."

Monday's expulsions come after last month Manila ordered Iraqi consul Husham Husain to leave the country for his alleged links with Islamic extremists in the country.

The Philippines is a U.S. ally in the war on terrorism and the U.S. military advises the Filipino armed forces in their battle against the radical Muslim Abu Sayyaf group in the south of the country. Manila is also a part of Bush's "coalition of the willing" that supports war with Iraq.

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