Poland to extend its military presence in Iraq

Poland's new government indicated Wednesday it was open to the possibility of extending the nation's military presence in Iraq. Poland committed combat troops to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has had soldiers there since. It has plans to end the rotation of troops after Dec. 31, though outgoing President Aleksander Kwasniewski has several times suggested the mission could be extended on request from Iraqi authorities and on authorization from the U.N. Security Council, conditions that have both been met.

As he took his new post as deputy defense minister on Wednesday, Stanislaw Koziej indicated the new government was also willing to look at extending the mission, pointing to a U.N. Security Council vote Tuesday to extend the mandate of the multinational force for a year, according to the AP.

A minority government under Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz took office Oct. 31 and needs to pass a vote of confidence Thursday.

Koziej said the new government should take into consideration "the will of the Iraqi authorities ... the will of the international community, expressed in the resolution, and negotiations with the allies with whom we would be, potentially, continuing to carry out the Security Council's mandate," Polish news agency PAP reported.

Poland currently commands a multinational force of some 4,000 troops in three central Iraqi provinces, including some 1,500 Polish soldiers.