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July 17, 2005

Brits out

British Defense Secretary John Reid today confirmed reports—contained in a leaked memo—that U.K. troops are likely to withdraw from Iraq within the next year:

In an interview with CNN’s “Late Edition,” he said neither Britain nor the United States had “imperialist ambitions” in Iraq, and both want Iraqi forces to take over responsibility for security.
Reid made the remarks when asked to comment on the memo, signed by him, which stated that Britain is considering reducing its troop presence from the current 8,500 to 3,000 by the middle of 2006.
… “If we had an open ended presence there, and were never envisaging that the Iraqis could take control of their own country, we would be rightly criticized for long term imperialist ambitions. We have none,” Reid told CNN.
… Reid said Britain and the United States were looking forward to the day when Iraqi forces were strong enough to take the lead in handling security in their country, “and we can then give them support, but gradually run down our presence there.
“Now that is not going to be an event,” Reid said. “That will be a process. I believe it is a process that could start, no more than that, over the next 12 months.”

Britain has about 8,500 troops in Iraq, 92 of whom have been killed.

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