The announcement by the Czech defence minister, Miroslav Kostelka, turns up the pressure on the US and Britain to staunch the withdrawal of nations from the multinational force.

Spanish troops left Iraq in May in line with election campaign promises made by the new anti-war government in Madrid. Other governments have also been reviewing their troop commitments in the light of the security situation in Iraq.

The Czech Republic has 80 military police stationed around the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

Kostelka told the state-run news agency CTK the Czech Republic instead should focus mainly on its missions in Afghanistan and the Balkans.

The main occupying powers in Iraq, the US and Britain, are pinning their hopes on more countries agreeing to join the coalition in Iraq once a UN resolution is adopted, endorsing the transfer of power to a sovereign interim government which takes over at the end of June.