WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland will press its NATO allies to draw up plans to end their mission in Afghanistan as soon as possible, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Saturday after the country’s seventeenth soldier died there.
Poland has 2,600 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission that is about to peak at 150,000. Public support for the deployment has eroded because of the deaths of Polish soldiers and a resurgence of the Taliban.
“Poland will push its NATO allies at a meeting in Lisbon to jointly come up with a relatively quick and precise plan for ending this intervention (in Afghanistan),” said Tusk.
“Poland is not in a position to break NATO solidarity ... but we are sufficiently involved in Afghanistan to take advantage of the right to discuss ending this mission as soon as possible,” he said.
NATO’s next summit will take place in Lisbon in November.
Poland’s defence ministry said earlier on Saturday that one soldier died and eight others were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their armoured vehicle 12 km from their base in Ghazni, in southwestern Afghanistan.
Acting President Bronislaw Komorowski, a party ally of Tusk who is favoured to win a June 20 presidential election, said he had discussed the plans to push for an end to the Afghanistan mission with Tusk before the latest death on Saturday morning.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced in December that he would send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, but also set a goal of starting a gradual withdrawal in July 2011.
Reporting by Chris Borowski; Editing by Noah Barkin