Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Romania to increase troops in Afghanistan

BUCHAREST, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Romania will increase the number of its soldiers in Afghanistan while cutting significantly its forces in Iraq, President Traian Basescu said on Tuesday.

"We will reduce our participation in the operation theaters, with the total number of militaries to be cut from 2,067, as it was in 2009, down to 1,667, as it was planned for 2010," the Romanian head of state told a press conference after a meeting of the Supreme Council for Country Defense (CSAT).

He explained that Romania's mission in Iraq was completed, with only 20 out of the current 520 Romanian troops to continue to stay in Iraq. They will no longer be part of the multinational force's structures, but will only participate in the training of the Iraqi army, under the NATO training mission.

"Our participation in the multinational force will become zero on July 1 this year and will stay zero next year too," Basescu said.

Referring to Afghanistan, Basescu said that Romania will send an additional 108 soldiers to the operations there under NATO in 2010, so that the battalion in the Zabul region will be able to honor all its categories of missions.

"As you all know, this is the border with Pakistan, that's why a consolidation of our forces in the Zabul area is necessary, so that the troops have all means at their disposal to carry out their mission," the president stressed.

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