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UK in talks with US military commander in Iraq


London : Prime Minister Gordon Brown was holding talks in London Thursday with US military commander in Iraq General David Petraeus.

The discussions are expected to cover the role and work of Britain’s remaining 4,000 troops in Iraq and plans currently put on hold to reduce the number to 2,500.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Petraeus, who is being accompanied with the US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, will want to discuss the level of involvement of British troops in helping Iraqi forces maintain law and order in Basra.

Last month, the US sent a “surge” of 800 troops to Basra following a flare up of violence.

Britain has refused to say whether UK troops were involved and has previously insisted that their new role is one of ‘overwatch’ and in training the Iraqi army.

UK troops last year pulled out of Basra to its base at the city’s airport amid US criticism.

Brown announced that troop numbers would be halved but Defence Secretary Des Browne said last week plans were on hold and forces would remain for the “foreseeable future”.