WARSAW (Reuters) - Eighty-five percent of Poles support the withdrawal of Poland’s troops from Iraq next year, as recommended by the centre-right government to the reluctant president, a poll by TNS OBOP showed on Thursday.
Poland, the largest ex-communist member of NATO and the European Union, backed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 by sending 2,500 troops to Iraq, and after withdrawing some, still has 900 soldiers in the south.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s plan to pull out the Polish troops fulfils an election campaign promise that put him at odds with President Lech Kaczynski, whose twin brother Jaroslaw lost the October election to Tusk.
Kaczynski, who favors a strong pro-U.S. policy in the face of the more EU-friendly approach of the new administration, has criticized the troop withdrawal plan, but his top adviser said recently the president might agree to it.
Kaczynski’s approval is needed for the government to order the withdrawal, but is expected to be forthcoming soon.
Other U.S. allies in Iraq, such as Britain and Australia, are also reducing their military presence in Iraq.
Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Tim Pearce