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Iraq exclusion zone in place, Perry says

Defense Secretary William Perry said Tuesday the international community had established a de facto exclusionary zone in southern Iraq to prevent Iraqi troops from threatening Kuwait again.

Asked if the administration had backed off his proposal to expand the no-fly zone south of the 32nd parallel to cover ground forces, Perry said, "Not at all. That is exactly what we are doing and the gulf states have joined us in this."

Perry said a diplomatic message issued by the United States, Britain and some Persian Gulf states clearly said the international community would take "appropriate action" if Iraq deployed its elite Republican Guard forces south of the 32nd parallel.

Perry also said he hoped to bring all U.S. forces deployed in the region after the lastest crisis back to the United States before Christmas.

He said there were just under 28,000 U.S. troops in the gulf region now, but additional elements of an armored brigade were still heading there.

Once they arrive, U.S. troops will conduct military exercises before heading home, assuming that Iraqi troops had not approached the Kuwaiti border again.

On Haiti, Perry said the United States would begin drawing down its presence there once United Nations peacekeeping forces arrived. He said the U.N. peacekeeping force would number 6,000 troops, of which some 2,000 would be U.S. soldiers.