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Baltics decide on war in Iraq

  • 2008-09-30
  • In cooperation with BNS

Baltic troops have been stationed in Iraq since 2003.

TALLINN 's The Estonian DefenseMinistry has completed a bill that would extend the country's mission in Iraqby another year.

"The security situation in Iraq has cardinally improved over the pastyear and Estonia hopes for an ending of the Iraq mission soon, but that dependson when the Estonian defense forces personnel will be able to hand over theirarea of responsibility to Iraq's own security forces," the Estonianminister was quoted by spokespeople as saying.

Under the bill, Estoniawould just like now participate in the Iraqmission with a 34-strong infantry platoon and two to three staff officers onthe NATO training mission.

The decision came just days after the Latvian defense minister announcedthat Latviawould not renew its own mission in Iraq next year.

Defense Minister Vinets Veldre told the Baltic News Service that thedecision to pull out of Iraqwas made in talks with commanders of other coalition forces, as control overmore and more territories is given back to Iraqi authorities.

"The situation in this country is returning to normal, the number ofterror acts in there has decreased by 80 percent over the past year," theminister said.

No changes are being planned for other multi-national missions involving Latviantroops, Veldre said, adding that the number of military observers in Georgiawas the most important issue at the moment.

At present there are three NAF soldiers serving in Iraq-- one in Baghdad and one inDivania.

Lithuania,meanwhile, has recently pulled the majority of its troops out of Iraq,leaving only eight military instructors and four officers in the country.