Source AP ©

Polish president says quick withdrawal of troops from Iraq mistake

Poland’s new government and the president, who said Monday that a quick withdrawal of Polish troops from Iraq would be a mistake as tensions over neighboring Iran escalate, seem to have some different points of view on the problem.

President Lech Kaczynski is the supreme commander of Poland's armed forces and has the final say on military missions abroad.

Prime minister-designate Donald Tusk, who defeated the president's twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in Oct. 21 elections, has called for the mission to Iraq to end next year.

In an interview with state Radio 1, Kaczynski pointed to the "dangerous" situation in neighboring Iran, which is at odds with the West over its nuclear program.

"If the situation in Iran deteriorates, then pulling out troops from Iraq would be a fundamental mistake," the president said.

Poland contributed combat troops to the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq, and some 900 troops are still there training the Iraqi army and renovating schools and hospitals.

"We were a member of this coalition and we should be a member who carries out his mission," Kaczynski said.

The Polish mission's current mandate expires at the end of this year, and Kaczynski still has to make a decision on its future.

Tusk has said he expects Kaczynski to swear in his Cabinet on Friday. He expects a parliamentary vote to confirm the new government on Nov. 23.

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