Poland 'led by the nose' on WMDs

March 18, 2004 at 3:10 PM

WARSAW, Poland, March 18 (UPI) -- Poland was deceived by claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and an early withdrawal of troops is possible, the country's president said Thursday.

President Aleksander Kwasniewski did not name any countries by name, but he told reporters, "That we were deceived on weapons of mass destruction (in Iraq) is true. They led us by the nose."

In Washington, Congress is investigating the accuracy of the intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify its attack on Iraq.

Poland is the lead nation with 2,400 military personnel in the 9000-strong, 24-nation "Multi-National Division" in southern Iraq, which also includes 1,300 Spanish troops. Spain's new Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero has said he will pull out the Spanish contingent unless the United Nations takes over peacekeeping responsibilities in Iraq.

Kwasniewski said a pullout of Polish troops ahead of the agreed time table was also possible, once "the mission to stabilize Iraq was successful."

But, he said, if the pullout led to "a return to war, to ethnic cleansing, to aggressive acts against neighboring countries, what would be the sense of a withdrawal?"

However, he added Polish troops would leave at the beginning of 2005, which would be several months ahead of the established deadline.

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