Polish prime minister and president clash politically over Iraq

Poland's prime minister and president clashed Sunday over the future of the country's mission in Iraq, with the premier warning that failure to resolve the dispute could force Warsaw to start withdrawing its 900 soldiers this month.

Polish prime minister and president clash politically over Iraq

New Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Lech Kaczynski are at odds over how long to continue the mission, although neither is seeking an immediate withdrawal.

Tusk wants to keep Polish troops in Iraq until October 2008 at the latest. However, their current mandate expires Dec. 31, and extending the mission until late next year requires the government to present a new mandate that must be approved by parliament and by Kaczynski, the military's commander in chief.

A spokesman for the president suggested Sunday that Kaczynski would withhold approval to a government plan that would withdraw troops by next October. The president is a staunch U.S. ally and advocates sticking it out longer in Iraq.

``I don't think he will sign such an agreement,'' presidential aide Michal Kaminski told the station Radio Zet.

Tusk responded by saying that if the president doesn't agree to the final date of October 2008, that could force an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq since the current mandate ends Dec. 31 and there would be none to replace it.

The president would then be taking ``the responsibility for an evacuation,'' Tusk said in an interview on TVN24 television.

But Tusk also suggested that he was open to finding a solution with Kaczynski, saying one of his representatives was welcome to join his Cabinet when it discusses the Iraq mission at its next meeting Tuesday.

Tusk's pro-business Civic Platform party won elections in October, defeating the Law and Justice party of former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski - the president's twin brother.

The parties differ sharply over Iraq. During the campaign, Tusk called for ending the mission next year, while Jaroslaw Kaczynski said leaving would amount to desertion.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Aralık 2007, 11:30