Thursday, August 7, 2008

Romania Hopes For Iraq Troop Withdrawal In 1-2 Years-Minister

BUCHAREST (AFP)--Romania hopes to pull its troops out of Iraq "in one or two years," Defense Minister Teodor Melescanu said Thursday.

The withdrawal would follow negotiations with the multinational coalition headed by the U.S. and the authorities in Baghdad, he added.

"We hope that negotiations on a reduction of our military presence in Iraq will begin more quickly," Melescanu told journalists at a ceremony to mark the return of a Romanian battalion from Afghanistan.

"The prospects are very good and I think the process can start as the Iraqi army and security forces take over the tasks currently carried out by the coalition forces."

The minister underlined that Bucharest would not take any unilateral decision with regard to withdrawing its troops from Iraq, noting that "the allies are counting on the presence" of Romanian soldiers.

Romania has 500 soldiers in Iraq.

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