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Kuwait Denies US Troop Pullout, Says News Agency Hacked

Kuwait on Wednesday denied reports that the United States had decided to withdraw its troops from the Gulf state, saying the Twitter account of its official news agency had been hacked.

The state-run Kuwait News Agency tweeted that the Kuwaiti defence minister had been informed by the commander of US forces in the emirate of their intention to withdraw from the Arifjan base within three days.

The news, published in both Arabic and English, was deleted within minutes.

"The (Twitter) account of Kuwait News Agency was hacked... The report about the intention of the US troops to pull out is untrue," government spokesman Tareq al-Mazrem said in a statement.

KUNA also said it had been hacked and noted that the report was not published on its general wire.

The United States said on Friday that it was deploying up to 3,500 more troops to the Middle East with reprisals expected after an American drone killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

The Kuwait incident comes after a US letter apparently signalling a pullout of forces from Iraq caused alarm, before the White House and the Pentagon said there were no such plans and that the letter was merely a draft.

Kuwait's Arifjan Base, which lies 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of the capital and close to the border with Saudi Arabia, is the main US base in Kuwait. It houses several thousand US troops and serves as a military transit point to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kuwait and the United States are bound by a 10-year defence pact that expires in 2022.

The pact was originally signed following the first Gulf War in 1991 after a US-led international force expelled Iraqi troops from Kuwait ending seven months of occupation.

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