Source AP ©

Polish ambassador, injured in Iraq, ready to return to Baghdad

Polish ambassador, injured in Baghdad last month, left hospital and said he was ready to return to Iraq .

Ambassador Gen. Edward Pietrzyk, 57, his hands bandaged and leaning on a cane for support, was released from the hospital in Gryfice, northern Poland, where was treated for severe burns suffered when a roadside bomb exploded Oct. 3 beneath his armored car, killing his bodyguard.

"My plan is to take a few days of rest and then tell my superiors at the Foreign Ministry that I am ready to continue my mission," he said at a nationally broadcast news conference.

"There is not a grain of hatred, of craving for revenge in me," he said.

On Thursday, U.S. President George W. Bush called Pietrzyk to thank him for his courage and service in Iraq, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

Pietrzyk, who was formerly commander of land forces in Poland, was appointed ambassador to Iraq in April. He studied in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and spent two years at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. He then served as commander of Polish land forces from 2000 until 2006.

Poland, a staunch U.S. ally, contributed combat troops to the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq, and has since led a multinational division south of Baghdad. About 900 Polish troops are currently stationed there training Iraqi personnel.

Last year, the Polish government extended its mission in Iraq until the end of 2007, leaving a decision on further extensions for later this year.

Poland's prime minister-designate, Donald Tusk, has pledged to bring an end to the mission in its current form in 2008.

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