Britain to sign pullout pact with Iraq soon: Report

By Xinhua,

Baghdad : Britain will soon sign a comprehensive pact with Iran similar to the pullout and framework agreements signed between Baghdad and Washington, official al-Sabah newspaper reported Monday.

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“The British government is negotiating with its Iraqi counterpart to conclude an agreement similar to the US and Iraqi one,” the daily quoted British foreign office spokesman John Wilkes as saying.

“Baghdad and London will finalize the talks over the pact in the next few days,” Wilkes said.

The agreement should be completed before the current United Nations mandate for troops expires by the end of this year.

He said the pact would not require to be passed by the British parliament, because it would be between the Iraqi and British governments.

He refused to say how many British troops will remain in the country and refrained from setting a timeline for the troops withdrawal.

“There would be a limited number of British troops to stay in southern Iraq as long as the Iraqi government deems it necessary,” he said.

The British troops mission would be training the Iraqi Army 14th Division stationed in Basra and the country’s navy, he added.

Britain has some 4,000 troops in Iraq, the majority of them being based outside Iraq’s second largest city of Basra, some 550 km south of Baghdad.

In July, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he wanted to cut the number of Britain’s troops but ruled out a timetable for their withdrawal.

Late last month, Iraq signed a key security agreement with US which will authorise US military presence in the country for another three years.