Thursday, November 13, 2008

Defense Minister: Romania to pull out from Iraq early next year

Romania will pull out from Iraq early next year unless a decision is made by early December on a possible extension of the country's mandate in Iraq, Defense Minister Teodor Melescanu said Tuesday.

"The mandate of the multinational coalition in Iraq expires on Dec. 31. If no political decision is made in early December at the latest, it will be quite hard to presume that we continue to carry out in an efficient manner our mission in Iraq," Melescanu said.

According to the minister, the Romanian Defense Ministry is examining "all the possible scenarios that might happen, from the one the same structure will be maintained to the one implying the change of the missions or location including pull out from Iraq, unless an express request or a resolution is adopted by the UN General Assembly to offer us our necessary mandate further too."

"If the mission of the Romanian militaries continues after Jan 1, 2009, too, there is no doubt it will be less dangerous in terms of situations the troops will be put in the position to deal with," Melescanu said late last week.

Melescanu added that the UN mandate of the Romanian troops in Iraq expires on Dec. 31 with the additional presence of Romanian militaries in the country being conditioned on any requests by the Baghdad government.

"The evolutions in Iraq in the latest years are positive, no doubt about it, with the single discussions now related to the presence of the foreign military troops on the territory of this country being related to a certain symbolic presence, a presence to represent a real support for the continuation of the process of taking over by the Iraqi forces to ensure security," Melescanu said.

Political sources said that the Iraqi side agreed to conclude further agreements with only five states including Romania.

Romania has some 1,600 militaries deployed abroad, with some 600 in Iraq and the rest in Afghanistan and the Balkans.


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