Source AP ©

Poland to withdraw troops from Iraq in 2008

Poland’s new Prime Minister said Friday that the country would withdraw its troops from Iraq next year, but continue mission in Afghanistan.

But President Lech Kaczynski, as commander in chief, has the final say in foreign military missions. Kaczynski supports staying longer in Iraq, and it was not immediately clear if he would attempt to overrule the government's plan to pull out.

"In a year's time, I will tell you here in this chamber that our military mission in Iraq is over," Prime Minister Donald Tusk told lawmakers in a three-hour speech.

"We have taken the decision - as far as the government powers go - to make 2008 the year when the pullout of Poland's military mission is started and completed," Tusk said. "We will carry out that operation with the conviction that we have done more than what our allies - especially the U.S. - had expected from us."

Poland has some 900 soldiers in Iraq and leads the international contingent of about 2,000 soldiers from 10 nations in the south-central part of the country. Tusk said Poland would keep its current troop level of 1,200 in Afghanistan next year.

Tusk also said that Poland will resume talks with the U.S. on hosting a missile defense base - but only after consulting with NATO and other neighboring countries - signaling a greater skepticism to the plan than the last government.

Tusk also said Poland would ratify the European Union's reform treaty in the coming days. That marked a sharp change from the last government, which had clashed often with Brussels.

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