The survey's results, which were published on Thursday, revealed a rift between public opinion and the government's expressed plans to keep the soldiers in the war-torn country.

About 41% of the Danes questioned said Denmark, which has 525 soldiers in Iraq, should set a date for pulling them out, while 22% said the government should call the troops home immediately, according to the Gallup poll of 1015 people conducted between 18 and 20 January and published in Danish daily Berlingske Tidende. 

Thirty-five percent of those polled said they felt the Danish soldiers should stay in Iraq as long as they are needed. Two per cent of those polled were undecided. 

Heated debate

The question of when the Danes serving in Iraq should be pulled out, has become a topic of heated debate in the run-up to the Scandinavian country's 8 February legislative elections. 

"To set a date for the end of our involvement or to pull out immediately would only give the terrorists good reasons to continue their attacks against the building of a democratic Iraq"

Per Stig Moeller,
Danish Foreign Minister

Denmark's ruling centre-right coalition government, which has shown a clear lead in the polls, has stated that it has no intention of pulling out its troops soon. 

"We don't think that the Danish soldiers should stay forever either. But to set a date for the end of our involvement or to pull out immediately would only give the rebels and terrorists good reasons to continue their attacks against the building of a democratic Iraq," Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller told Berlingske Tidende. 

The government, one of the Bush administration's most loyal
allies, had only a tiny parliamentary majority behind it when it
decided to contribute troops to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.