British prime minister holds talks in Iraq
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Saturday. According to Reuters, Iraqi officials said Brown was holding talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.
Brown is expected to hail a reduction in violence in Iraq, particularly in the southern province of Basra.
A spokesman for Brown said this week that the prime minister wanted to focus on the "economic element" during the trip and encourage investment in Basra. He said he did not expect Brown to make any announcement on the level of British troops in the country, which remains at around 4,000 after plans to reduce them further were delayed.
Brown's government is expected to make a statement to parliament next Tuesday on Britain's future role in Iraq.
British Defence Minister Des Browne, who visited Basra city in May, said it was a "transformed city" since Maliki launched a crackdown against Shi'ite militias in late March.
Brown and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih launched the Basra Development Commission last December to encourage investment in Basra province.