November 2, 2007 / 4:25 PM / 12 years ago

Rice tells US diplomats Iraq jobs 'must be filled'

WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday told all U.S. diplomats that posts in Iraq must be filled after some voiced unhappiness about the possibility of being forced to serve in the war zone.

One diplomat told a State Department town hall this week that serving in Iraq was a "potential death sentence." Another said the department failed to treat her for post-traumatic stress disorder when she returned from a stint in Basra.

Some U.S. diplomats are incensed following a State Department decision last week to identify "prime candidates" who may have to accept compulsory one-year tours in Iraq or risk losing their jobs. If volunteers step forward, however, mandatory assignments will not be necessary.

"Regardless of how the jobs may be filled, they must be filled," Rice said in a cable sent to all the roughly 11,500 U.S. diplomats around the world. "It is our duty to do our part toward succeeding in the vital mission in Iraq given to us by the president."

More than 200 diplomats have been told they are in a pool of people who may be forced to go to Iraq to fill 48 positions for which no qualified candidates had volunteered. Since news of this was released, 15 people have volunteered and are being vetted, the State Department said on Thursday.

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