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UPDATED: 11:30, February 28, 2007
Latvia to withdraw force from Iraq, boost troops in Afghanistan
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Latvia would withdraw its troops from Iraq by July, but its troops in Afghanistan would stay on and receive reinforcement, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

Latvia currently has a force of 124 in Iraq. After the planned withdrawal, 15 officers would remain there on the mission of training Iraqi troops.

The ministry also said that Latvia is planning to enlarge its troops in Afghanistan to about 100 by the end of this year from near 40.

Latvia has lost three soldiers in Iraq since it sent the first batch of troops to Iraq in August 2003. The nation joined NATO in 2004.

The Latvian parliament adopted a resolution on Dec. 14 extending the Latvian troops' mandate in Iraq until the end of 2007.

Defense Minister Atic Slaktelis said last month that Latvian troops will not leave Iraq until the Gulf state's security forces can take over national defense independently.

Source: Xinhua

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