PART OF UKRAINIAN CONTINGENT TO LEAVE IRAQ SOON

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KIEV, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - Part of the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent may very soon be withdrawn from Iraq, believes Ukrainian Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk.

"It is my forecast that it will be declared very soon that part of the Ukrainian contingent will be withdrawn from Iraq", he told the press conference in Kiev on Tuesday, the Novosti-Ukraine news agency reports.

He did not cite a timeframe. "I cannot do it now", he said.

The Ukrainian chief diplomat also said that "a possible withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops from Iraq cannot affect our relations with the Western partners".

Earlier on Tuesday, presenting to ministerial officials new Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk, Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko said that he was going very soon to instruct the foreign and defense ministries on the contingent's pullout from Iraq.

The presidential instruction will fix how and when the Ukrainian military will be withdrawn.

Mr.Yuschenko stressed that the goal set to the Ukrainian peacekeeping mission in Iraq has been fulfilled and Ukrainian soldiers in Iraq should be replaced by diplomats and businessmen.

There are in Iraq approximately 1,600 Ukrainian peacekeepers, stationed in the Wasit province 120 to 140 kilometers south-east of Baghdad in the Polish command zone.

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