Spain to pull out half Afghan troops after poll

30th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

30 September 2004, KABUL - Spain's defence minister said Thursday about half of his nation's thousand-plus contingent of soldiers in Afghanistan will be brought home following elections next month.

30 September 2004

KABUL - Spain's defence minister said Thursday about half of his nation's thousand-plus contingent of soldiers in Afghanistan will be brought home following elections next month.

Defence Minister Jose Bono made the pledge after meeting Afghan president Hamid Karzai, a candidate in elections set for 9 October.

He said Karzai asked him for an extension of the presence of the Spanish contingent.

The minister said he told the Afghan leader that the soldiers running a field hospital in Kabul would remain, but that a 500-strong battalion in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif would be brought home following the vote.

Bono was accompanied on his trip to Afghanistan by high-ranking military officers and a delegation of Spanish deputies.

Though the Socialist government withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq soon after taking office in April, the deployment of 1,040 soldiers to Afghanistan, where a UN mandate is in effect, was approved by the administration and congress in July.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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