Blair expresses hope on Iraq troop reduction by 2005 as Chalabi staffers ordered to evacuate

Published May 30th, 2004 - 02:00 GMT

Britain will decide probably in the next few weeks whether to send more troops to Iraq, the country's Prime Minister said on Sunday when asked about speculation he may dispatch another 3,000.  


Tony Blair also said he hoped to see a hefty cut in the numbers of British troops in Iraq by the end of 2005, once the Iraqis were capable of running their own security.  


"I would want, certainly by the end of next year, to have a substantial reduction in the British troop commitment," Blair said in an interview with BBC television.  


Meanwhile, Iraqi police on Sunday demanded that staffers of Ahmad Chalabi's political movement evacuate their building in a city west of Baghdad, but officials said they were trying to sort out the situation with the authorities.  


Police arrived at the Ramadi offices of his Iraqi National Congress movement and ordered everyone to leave the building, according to INC official Haider al-Musawi. He said the evacuation order came from the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior.  


"We are trying to solve this problem peacefully and legally without causing any problems," Haider said.  


It was unclear why the evacuation order had been issued.  


Chalabi, once the darling of the US political establishment, has fallen out of favor in Washington after his information about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction failed to pan out. (

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