Portugal to Withdraw If Iraq Violence Worsens

Portugal will consider pulling its peacekeeping police out of Iraq if the fighting there worsens, the country's interior minister said Friday.

"If, speaking theoretically, the conflict deepens and the police cannot carry out their mission, they will have to withdraw," Antonio Figueiredo Lopes (search) said in an interview with the public radio station Antena 1.

Portugal has 128 police officers on peacekeeping duty in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.

Portugal's conservative government, which backed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, provided police after President Jorge Sampaio (search), a Socialist, refused to allow the deployment of troops without a mandate from the United Nations. He is the formal head of the armed forces.

Several nations have recently said they were reviewing their troop commitment, but there have been no announcements of planned withdrawals.

Most recently, the Philippines government announced this week that it was considering a pullout because of the mounting violence. But the government later said its soldiers would remain but it may evacuate other Filipinos.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (search) said about 50 troops in central Iraq were operating in a safe area, but as a precaution, they were being restricted to their camps.