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Romania to pull out troops from Iraq this year-PM

Written by: Staff
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BUCHAREST, June 29 (Reuters) Romania plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of this year, Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu said today.

The announcement regarding Romania's 890 troops follows a similar move by Italy, while Japan began withdrawing its troops from the US-led coalition in Iraq last week.

Tariceanu said the Iraq mission was too costly for the poor ex-communist country, which hopes to enter the European Union next year. It was also unpopular with many Romanians.

''The president will be informed about the decision we have taken ... and we can have a discussion on this subject and of course, we will also inform our US partners immediately,'' Tariceanu told a news briefing.

The decision to pull out troops from Iraq needs to be approved by the Supreme Defence Council headed by the president and parliament. The prime minister said the Black Sea state would keep soldiers in peacekeeping missions elsewhere in the world.

Romania, which joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in 2004 with six other ex-communist European states, has 809 soldier in Afghanistan. It also has forces in Bosnia and the Serbian province of Kosovo.

Two soldiers have died in Iraq since Romania sent its contingent there in 2001, while four have been killed in Afghanistan since 2003.

The defence ministry said four soldiers helping to train Iraqi armed forces would remain in Iraq.

''We will save million overall this way. We propose to withdraw our troops from the Iraqi Freedom operation at the last troop rotation of this year when Italian troops will pull out,'' Defence Minister Teodor Atanasiu told reporters.

REUTERS SHR RS2131

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