Britain plans to start withdrawal from Iraq ”within weeks”

Published February 21st, 2007 - 07:36 GMT

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to announce on Wednesday a new timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, with 1,500 to return home in several weeks, British media reported.

 

Blair will also convey to the House of Commons during his regular weekly appearance before it that a total of some 3,000 British troops will have left southern Iraq by the end of 2007, if the security there is sufficient, the British Broadcasting Corp. and The Sun newspaper said, quoting government sources.

 

The BBC said Blair was not expected to say when the rest of Britain's soldiers would leave Iraq. Currently, Britain has just over 7,000 soldiers there.

 

Blair and US president George Bush talked Tuesday morning, and the latter views Britain's troop cutbacks as "a sign of success" in Iraq, said U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe, according to the AP. "While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis," Johndroe stated in Washington.

 

The reports also said Blair would tell the Commons that if the situation worsens on the ground in Iraq, his plan could change.

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