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2 Sep, 2010 18:00

Poland wants to start pulling troops out of Afghanistan

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has complained that the mission in Afghanistan costs Poland $1 billion annually, and asked NATO to define plans to start withdrawing soldiers from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Poland currently has more than 2,500 troops engaged in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.

Komorowski, who in his presidential election campaign promised that the Polish military will leave Afghanistan in 2012, said on Wednesday that the cost of the mission was hampering the development of the Polish army, and called on allies to start exiting the country.

However, the president’s initiative should not be exaggerated, says Philip Ilkovsky of the Polish Stop the War Initiative.

“I really do not believe that President Komorowski is the kind of pacifist who will do it very quickly,” he said.

“Polish troops are still in Afghanistan. This same President Komorowski this year sent additional troops to Afghanistan, and we have altogether 3,000 Polish troops in the contingent and more than 2,500 actually fighting in Afghanistan,” he added.

According to Ilkovsky, the war is extremely unpopular among the people of Poland, and this is one of the main reasons Komorowski is discussing the possible pullout.

“About 80 percent of the Polish population is against the Polish involvement in the war in Afghanistan,” he said.

What Komorowski is trying to do, Ilkovski said, was pull some troops out of Afghanistan but at the same time keep the war going – which is very similar to what President Obama is trying to do in Iraq, he added.

The news came days after the United States started pulling its troops out of Iraq, fulfilling President Obama’s election pledge.