WARSAW, Poland – Poland's prime minister and defense minister arrived in Iraq (search) Wednesday for a Christmas visit to Polish troops, a Polish military official said.
Prime Minister Marek Belka and Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski (search) were visiting Camp Echo in Diwaniyah, the new headquarters for the Polish-led international security force in central Iraq, said military spokesman Lt. Col. Artur Domanski.
The leaders were expected to have a Christmas meal with the troops Wednesday afternoon.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Tuesday. Though Belka's office said Tuesday that the Polish prime minister would be traveling to Iraq, it gave no timetable or other details out of security concerns.
Poland, a staunch U.S. ally in Iraq, contributed combat troops for the 2003 war and now has 2,400 soldiers stationed in Iraq as part of the 6,000-strong international force that it leads.
The country has lost 16 soldiers since it deployed troops to central Iraq, its most recent losses occurring last week when three soldiers died in a helicopter crash.