Romanian minister says 500 troops to leave Iraq
November 6 2008
Romania’s defense minister says the country’s 501 peacekeepers in Iraq will all leave by the end of the year.
Teodor Melescanu said some Romanian military personnel will work in 2009 as counselors to local authorities and supporting the civilian population.
Speaking Thursday in the western city of Arad, Melescanu he said was awaiting clarification of their new role from the Iraqi government.
He says Iraq “will call for a substantial reduction in foreign military troops and a change in (their) mission.”
The moves must be formally approved by Romania‘s Supreme Defense Council.
Two Romanian soldiers have died in Iraq since 2003. Romania is member of NATO and also has 644 soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Bulgaria To Withdraw Soldiers From Iraq At Year-end
November 6 2008
Bulgaria plans to withdraw its 155-strong military contingent in Iraq when its mandate expires at the end of this year, government officials said in newspaper interviews Thursday.
“We are evaluating our presence there (in Iraq), but we estimate that we have to a great extent fulfilled our mission,” Foreign Affairs Minister Ivaylo Kalfin told the daily 24 Hours.
The announcement came after U.S. Democratic party candidate Barack Obama won the presidential elections Tuesday. Obama has vowed to withdraw the majority of U.S. troops from Iraq by mid-2010.
Bulgaria’s Defense Minister Nikolay Tsonev told Trud newspaper that the Bulgarian contingent stationed near the capital Baghdad “will be withdrawn before Dec. 31,” when the parliamentary mandate expires.
Parliament has the final say over whether to extend the troops’ mandate or bring them home.
But Kalfin said Thursday that Bulgaria would continue contributing to peace and stability in Iraq by sending instructors to train the Iraqi security forces.
After joining the U.S.-led coalition in the country in 2003, Bulgaria lost 13 soldiers and six civilians.
The country’s center-left government withdrew its 360-strong military contingent from Iraq in 2005 in a move to meet its pre-election pledges.
But three months later it dispatched a 155-strong contingent on a ” peacekeeping and humanitarian mission” to guard the Ashraf refugee camp at the border with Iran.