Norway to withdraw troops from Iraq

Friday, September 16, 2005

The leader of the Norwegian Labour Party, incoming Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, announced yesterday that Norway is to withdraw the remainder of its troops from Iraq. Nato member Norway still has approximately 20 military officers stationed in Iraq. They participate in the training of Iraqi troops with the British and Polish divisions. Previously Norway had approximately 170 soldiers stationed in Iraq, of which most were withdrawn in 2004 due to lack of popular and government support.

Stoltenberg notified George W. Bush of his decision on Thursday, when Bush called to congratulate him on his election victory. Norwegians voted in Monday's parliamentary elections in favour of a red-green alliance headed by Stoltenberg's Labour party, ousting the centre-right government.

Retiring Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik criticized Stoltenberg's decision as inconsistent. He said Labour's plan to withdraw the same troops it previously supported sending to Iraq was contradictory.