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Poland Tells Rice of Plans to Draw Down Troops in Iraq

The Polish government says it will soon withdraw 800 of its 2,400 troops from Iraq. The announcement came during talks in Warsaw between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and senior Polish officials.

Poland had long been indicating that it would reduce its Iraq contingent, one of the largest in the U.S.-led military coalition. And Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld said the 800-man draw-down will go forward now, after successful elections in Iraq that he said have fundamentally changed the outlook for that country.

Mr. Rotfeld made the announcement at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Rice, who said the decision in no way changes the United States' appreciation of what she said was "Poland's extraordinary contribution to security in Iraq."

The talks here were in preparation for a White House visit next week by Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski.

While he was not specific, the Polish foreign minister also said there had been progress on the problem issue of visas for Polish visitors to the United States, and on U.S. support for modernizing the Polish military, which has been financially strapped by its role in Iraq.