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Spain  to Withdraw Troops As Soon as Possible - 2004-04-18


In a surprise announcement Spain's prime minister has said he plans to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Spanish television today (Sunday) he has given orders for the removal of Spain's 13-hundred troops.

Earlier, Mr. Zapatero had said Spain's troops would be withdrawn if the United Nations does not take charge in Iraq by June 30th, the date designated for the changeover of power from the US-led coalition to an Iraqi-led interim government.

Mr. Zapatero said according to the information he has, it is not likely a U-N resolution will be passed that will satisfy Spain's terms to stay in Iraq.

Mr. Zapatero was confirmed as prime minister on Friday. He won the post last month, three days after a series of train bombings in Madrid killed 191 people and injured more than 15-hundred more. Analysts say Mr. Zapatero's party scored its surprise win in the March 14th elections because many voters blamed the train bombings on the outgoing government's support for the war in Iraq.

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