Kubiš: Recent rotation of Slovak soldiers in Iraq to be the last

THE AUGUST rotation of Slovak soldiers operating in Iraq was the last to occur before the planned withdrawal of the Slovak unit from the region, Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš said following talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zabari, on September 8.

"The proposed time-frame for the withdrawal, as well as plans for the continuation of Slovakia's involvement in the Iraqi Freedom operation and NATO's training operation will be submitted to the government during the coming weeks," Kubiš said.

The mission of the new 103-strong unit of Slovak sappers in Iraq began on August 23 and is scheduled to last six months.

Iraqi's chief diplomat said that the Iraqi government plans to open a diplomatic mission in Bratislava by the end of this year. Slovakia is currently served by the Iraqi Embassy in Vienna, the TASR news agency wrote.

Zabari praised the operation of Slovak soldiers in his country and, along with Kubiš, spoke of the development of bilateral co-operation in the economy and other fields.

The ministers did not discuss specific economic projects. However, Zabari said that the Iraqi government would welcome it if Slovak firms operated in Iraq, not only because of Slovakia's support for the country, but also because of the performance of the sapper unit and the assistance Slovak soldiers have rendered in the training of Iraqi security forces.

Zabari's visit followed Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico's visit to Iraq on August 17.

During his visit to Slovakia, Zabari also met Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič, Parliamentary Speaker Pavol Paška and Defence Minister František Kašický.

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