Latvian government splits on mission in Iraq

Latvia's government experienced the first cracks in its Iraq policy when a proposition to ignore extending country's troop mission there was brought onto the surface.

Latvia has been a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led mission in Iraq and has 136 soldiers stationed in the country under a mandate that expires Dec. 31.

The Latvian Farmers' Union party, a junior member of the governing coalition, decided Wednesday it would not support extending the mission.

"If it comes to a vote in December ... we have to vote against (extending the mission)," Farmers' Union deputy chairwoman Ingrida Udre said.

Udre said the decision was made because the party felt the Iraqi government and its people should be given more space in which to govern.

The party has partnered with the Greens to form the Greens and Farmers Union, one of four members in the governing coalition. Farmers' Union officials said they expected the Greens to support their decision.

However, the government may be able to push through an extension of the Latvian troops' mandate even without the support of the Greens and Farmers Union, which have only 12 lawmakers in the 100-seat Seima, the AP reports.

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