Denmark to withdraw from Iraq

Other News Materials 21 February 2007 17:52 (UTC +04:00)

( www.ap.org ) - Denmark is considering boosting its contingent in Afghanistan by 200 troops to 600, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday.

Earlier, the government presented plans to withdraw troops from Iraq . Fogh Rasmussen said no firm decision had been taken on the Danish troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan , "but we cannot exclude that we will go from the present 400 to 600."

The prime minister said Wednesday that his country will withdraw its 460-member contingent from southern Iraq by August and transfer security responsibilities to Iraqi forces, and that the decision had been made in conjunction with the Iraqi government and Britain , under whose command the Danish forces are serving near Basra .

Fogh Rasmussen said Denmark would replace the troops with surveillance helicopters and civilian advisers to help the Iraqi government's reconstruction efforts.

"The Danish battalion will be brought home by August," Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Copenhagen . "We expect that the Iraqis during 2007 will take over security in southern Iraq ."

Denmark would also boost training of Iraqi soldiers and increase support to Iraqi refugees in nearby countries, the prime minister said.

Fogh Rasmussen had earlier said he hoped Denmark would be able to start scaling back its Iraq troops this year, without setting a precise timetable.

The Danish announcement Wednesday came as British Prime Minister Tony Blair said his country would withdraw about 1,600 troops in coming months if local forces can secure the southern part of the country.

Six Danish soldiers have been killed in Iraq .