Ukraine’s Yushchenko Pays Unexpected Visit To Troops In Iraq

AL KUT, Iraq -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has made an unannounced one-day visit to his country’s peacekeepers in Iraq days before the troops were to leave the war zone, Associated Press reported.

The 867 Ukrainian soldiers have served as a part of the U.S.-led coalition under Polish command in southern and central Iraq. All are due home by Dec. 30, making the former Soviet nation the latest country to wind down its presence in the coalition.

Yushchenko plans to visit troops at the Ukrainian headquarters base in the town of Al Kut, said presidential spokeswoman Irina Gerashchenko.

He will also meet top Iraqi officials to discuss Ukraine’s role in the reconstruction of the country, she said.

Ukraine initially contributed 1,650 troops to the U.S.-led force in Iraq.

The government began withdrawing the troops in March, and President Yushchenko had pledged they would be out by the year’s end. The Western-leaning Ukrainian leader, who was elected in December last year, made a pullout from Iraq one of his campaign promises.

Eighteen Ukrainian soldiers died and 32 others were wounded in Iraq.

Source: MosNews


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