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IN SHORT

Powell thanks Slovakia for support in Iraq

US SECRETARY of State Colin Powell thanked Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan in a letter sent on April 20 for Slovakia's continuing contribution to the US-led operation in Iraq, the news wire TASR wrote.

Powell stressed that the international coalition's efforts to stop the wave of violence and establish order would continue, and praised the courage of the Slovak contingent in Iraq.

Slovakia has a 100-strong unit deployed in Iraq, mainly engineers performing mine-clearing operations.

"Despite the violence, we have made huge progress in returning freedom and prosperity to Iraq," Powell wrote to Kukan, adding that attacks by Saddam Hussein loyalists and supporters of radical leaders represent a "direct challenge to the democratic future of Iraq".

The letter of thanks coincides with the decision of Spain to withdraw 1,200 troops from the country.

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