UK to cut troops in Iraq by 500 in November: defense secretary

British Defense Secretary John Reid said on Monday Britain will cut its troops in Iraq by about 500 to 8,000 in November.

"The total number of troops in Iraq following the deployment of 7 Armored Brigade will be around 8,000," Reid told the House of Commons.

"This is about 500 fewer than at present, reflecting the closure of two small bases in Basra, the transfer of some training tasks to the Iraqi security forces and structural differences between the two brigades," Reid said.

"These are relatively minor adjustments, however, and will not affect the activities being carried out by the United Kingdom forces," he said, adding British troops will stay in Iraq until the job is done.

Last Thursday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that British troops "intend to stay with you for as long as you need us and as long as you want us."

It was important to "stay the course" to help give the Iraqis " the democracy they so self-evidently want," Blair added.

Britain, a staunch US ally on Iraq war, is positioning some 8, 500 troops in Iraq, mostly based in the south of the country near Basra.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---