U.S. confirms British decision to withdraw troops from Iraq

U.S. President George W. Bush has been informed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Britain is to begin withdrawing its troops from Iraq, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Tuesday.

"They spoke about this this morning on the phone," Johndroe said of British troop pullout.

"We view this as a success," Johndroe said, claiming the British decision was a sign of increasing stabilization in Iraq.

"The president is grateful for the support of the British forces in the past and into the future. While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transit more control to the Iraqis."

"The United States shares the same goal of turning responsibility over to the Iraqi Security Forces and reducing the number of American troops in Iraq," Johndroe said.

It was reported that Blair will announce on Wednesday that thousands of British troops are to begin withdrawing from Iraq in weeks.

The Blair government, Washington's staunchest ally in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, stations the second largest number of troops, following the United States, in the battered country.

Currently, Britain has some 7,000 troops in southern Iraq, most in the Basra area and about 800 in Maysan province. Up to 132 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the Iraq War.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online --- http://english.people.com.cn/