Norway's incoming Prime Minister has told US President George W Bush
that he will order Norwegian troops to leave Iraq as soon as he takes office,
the NTB news agency reported.
Labour Party leader Jens Stoltenberg, who will take up the post in
mid-October as the head of a coalition of three left-wing parties, told the
US president "the Norwegian officers should not remain in Iraq," NTB
quoted the Labour leader on Thursday.
As Stoltenberg has not officially taken office, he is unable technically to
announce a troop withdrawal.
But he reportedly made his intentions clear during a telephone conversation
with Bush who called to congratulate him on Monday's election victory.
The Labour Party and its Socialist Left and the Centre Party allies won 87
of 169 seats in the poll, defeating the sitting centre-right coalition led by
Kjell Magne Bondevik.
The socialists, who are involved in intense negotiations over a common platform
for government, made it clear during the election campaign that one of their
priorities would be to break with the American-led coalition forces in Iraq
as the country lurches towards civil war.
About ten officers are posted with coalition forces while a similar number
are on assignment with Northern Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) teams training
Iraqi security forces.
But Stoltenberg indicated that the three socialist parties, which initially
demanded Norway's military to cease operations in Afghanistan, now agreed to
maintain troops, NTB said.