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29 July 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's defense minister said today that Ukrainian officials have started talks on reducing and eventually withdrawing Ukraine's troops from Iraq.

Speaking at a news conference in Kyiv, Defense Minister Yevhen Marchuk said that negotiations had started in Warsaw earlier this year and continued last month at a NATO summit in Istanbul.

Vyacheslas Bolotniuk, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said there is no immediate timeline for a pullout but that there will be a decrease in Ukraine's troop levels.

Ukraine has around 1,650 troops serving in the Polish-led force in southern Iraq.

(with additional AFP and AP reporting)
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