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Poland sets Iraq pullout date

December 16, 2007|From Reuters

WARSAW — Poland's new Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Saturday he wanted the last Polish troops out of Iraq by October.

"The government is submitting a motion to terminate our military mission in Iraq by October 2008," Polish news channels showed Tusk telling reporters.

"Although President Lech Kaczynski holds a somewhat different view, I believe we shall reach an understanding and he will not block the withdrawal of the Polish military mission."

The liberal prime minister added that he was planning a visit before Christmas to Iraq, where 900 Polish troops are stationed, but gave no details.

Tusk, who heads the business-friendly Civic Platform party, had pledged in his inaugural address to Parliament last month to withdraw the nation's forces next year, without specifying a date.

Kaczynski did not immediately comment on the prime minister's statement, but his twin brother, Jaroslaw, Tusk's predecessor who was swept out of office in October's elections, called the move a mistake.

"Since we have been there so many years and suffered losses, it is not worth making moves that cast doubt on those efforts and may deprive us of any political advantage," he said at a news conference.

Poland backed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and originally had as many as 2,500 troops in a multinational division under its command.

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