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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Poland to cut Iraq troop numbers
Polish troops in Iraq
Polish troops head a multinational division in south-central Iraq
Poland will start reducing its 2,500-strong troop contingent in Iraq from early next year, Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka says.

Poland - seen as a strong ally of the US - leads a multi-national division of 8,000 troops in south-central Iraq.

"Poland will reduce its contingent from the start of 2005 and will discuss subsequent reductions," Mr Belka told parliament ahead of a confidence vote.

He vowed that Poland would "not remain in Iraq an hour longer than necessary".

Opinion polls suggest more than 70% of Poles are opposed to the presence of their country's troops in Iraq.

Seventeen Polish nationals have died in Iraq, including 13 soldiers and four civilians.

Poland said last week it would seek to pull out its troops after Iraq holds elections, due in January.

Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski also floated the idea of withdrawing troops by the end of 2005.



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