- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States is issuing unusually strong criticism of NATO ally Spain by expressing surprise at its decision to pull out its troops from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood says the United States was “deeply disappointed” by the decision. He says Washington only learned of the move shortly before Spain announced it publicly.

Defense Minister Carme Chacon made the announcement Thursday, saying, “The mission has been completed and it is time to return home.”

Asked if the United States shared that assessment, Wood said, “Not at all.”

Spain has 620 soldiers in Kosovo as part of a U.N. mission that includes about 15,500 soldiers from NATO members and allies.

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