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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Polish FM criticises US offensive
Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
Cimoszewicz: Falluja offensive was not helpful
Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz has criticised the US offensive in the Iraqi town of Falluja as an overreaction.

Hundreds of people died when US troops launched attacks against insurgents in response to the killing and mutilation of four American contractors.

Atrocities had been committed on both sides but this would not solve Iraq's political problems, the minister said.

But he ruled out the withdrawal of Polish troops from Iraq.

He told the BBC's Europe Today programme that the 2,400 Polish troops would stay in Iraq, not only to assist the American troops there, but to deliver security for the Iraqis.

Politics needed

Referring to Falluja, he said this was not the way to solve the political problems on the ground.

"It was a real surprise what happened in Falluja and everyone was so impressed by those terrible pictures of American civilians being killed with their bodies treated in an unacceptable way by Iraqis," he said.

"I understand the emotional and psychological reasons of a strong reaction. However it is not a solution to the existing problems."

Polish troops in Iraq
Polish troops will fulfil their mission, Cimoszewicz says
The Polish minister called for a political process to complement the military activity by the US-led coalition.

"We need more political initiatives, we need more political contacts, we need more political dialogue with various leaders in this country because 30 June is just 75 days away," he said.

The 30 June deadline is when the coalition forces are due to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis.

He said public opinion around the world was that US policy had been lacking in this respect.

He said Poland would continue its mission and hoped that the United Nations would become more involved than at present.

Mr Cimoszewicz's comments came before US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that the 20,000 US troops now serving in Iraq will have their tour of duty extended by 90 days beyond their original one-year deployment.


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