Estonia's parliament has passed into law a bill extending for a year-till June 20, 2005--the mission of Estonian troops in Iraq. Without the extension, the mission was authorized only through June 20, 2004. The vote on the bill, which was put forward by the government and approved by the legislature's Defense Committee, was 51-3 in the 101-seat parliament. The new law authorizes the government to send up to 55 troops to Iraq.
Tiita Matusulevich, a deputy from the ruling Res Publica party, said the interests of Estonia and the interests of the allies were the same. 'No country exists only for itself; the interests and security of Estonia must be defended far from its borders.' Estonia's Defense Ministry has earmarked euro 1.6 million for the yearlong mission, with an additional euro 1.09 million coming from the United States.