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Blair: Some British Forces Could Leave Iraq Next Year

14 November 2005 -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair says some British forces could be withdrawn from Iraq next year if Iraqi forces are ready to take over security duties.

Blair said "it's entirely reasonable to talk about the possibility of withdrawal of troops next year." But he said that will only happen "when the job is done."

He was speaking in London at a news conference with Iraqi Vice President Abel Abdul Mahdi. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said yesterday that Iraqi forces would be ready to replace British troops within one year.

Britain has some 8,000 British troops based around the southern city of Al-Basrah. British Defense Secretary John Reid says British troops in Iraq could start to withdraw within 12 months as Iraqi forces prove they are ready to take over security dutires.  Reid said in an interview with the BBC today that the withdrawal "will happen at different stages as the Iraqis get trained to different levels in different parts of the country."

But he added that he does not expect all British troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2006. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said yesterday that Iraqi forces would be ready to replace British troops within one year.

(AFP/AP)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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