Premier Calin Popescu Tariceanu ordered the defense minister, Teodor Atanasiu, on Thursday to propose the withdrawal of Romania's troops by the end of the year. Basescu called the proposal "unacceptable" and accused Tariceanu of damaging the country's credibility abroad.
However, Basescu revealed that negotiations were ongoing with coalition forces for a reduction of troops. He said Romania has agreed to maintain 628 troops but to pull out a group of de-miners, and two groups of military policemen. He said more talks would be held London next week, the AP reports.
The council met in urgent session Friday to discuss the proposed withdrawal. The council needs unanimity to make decisions, which then have to be ratified by parliament.
Basescu said that at Friday's meeting only Tariceanu and Atanasiu had initially supported the withdrawal of the troops.
Tariceanu's Liberal Party and several other groups favor withdrawal, making it uncertain that parliament would ratify an extension to the troops' presence in Iraq for next year. However, lawmakers had already suggested a possible compromise would be to reduce the number of troops, instead of a complete withdrawal.