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President tells US general that Slovak troops will stay in Iraq

PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič expressed Slovakia's willingness to continue as part of the international anti-terrorism coalition at his meeting with the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Richard B Myers, in Bratislava on July 19.

Gašparovič confirmed that Slovak soldiers would stay on in Iraq. He is convinced that despite the deaths of three Slovak soldiers in Iraq and the attack on the Slovak Embassy in Baghdad, Slovakia should maintain its position and outlook emerging from its NATO membership, the TASR news wire wrote.

"The President is certain that it would not be correct if Slovak soldiers left Iraq before helping the Iraqi people proceed on their difficult path toward democracy and freedom, which they have started," presidential spokesman Marek Trubač told news wire TASR.

The senior US armed forces officer described Slovakia as an ally and praised its troops operating in Iraq and Afghanistan during his meeting with his Slovak counterpart, Ľubomír Bulík.

"It is a common cause of the international community that we need to efficiently fight terrorism," said Myers.

Bulík has confirmed that Slovakia is considering changes to the 100-strong Slovak army engineering contingent in Iraq, but would not reveal any further details.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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