PRIME Minister Robert Fico, Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš and Defence Minister František Kašický paid an unexpected visit to Slovak troops in Iraq on August 16. Plans for the one-day visit were kept confidential for security reasons; the trip was related to the prepared departure of Slovak troops from the country.
The ministers met with their Iraqi counterparts and the commander of the allied forces in the country, the Pravda daily wrote.
Fico held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Núrí al-Malíkí dressed in army fatigues, and according to the TASR news wire was the first leader to meet the Iraqi PM thus attired. The Slovak leader said he did not have enough time to change because his flight was delayed.
Fico reiterated that the Slovak engineering unit in Iraq is not doing the work it was sent to accomplish, which is why the Slovak government is not interested in keeping the unit there. It is unclear when the troops could return to Slovakia.
According to the SME daily, Fico said that Slovakia will continue to provide training to Iraqi forces, but the government does not want to restrict the cooperation to security matters. The Iraqi PM and president, whom Fico also met, expressed interest in cooperating in the field of machinery, including military equipment.