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British PM arrives in Baghdad
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16:30, December 17, 2008

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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in Baghdad for an unannounced visit on Wednesday, Iraqi official television reported.

The Iraqia state-run television said that Brown has met with his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki in his office in the Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Brown is expected to discuss with Maliki the fate of the British troops in southern Iraq, the TV channel said.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi cabinet approved a draft bill that sets a timetable for withdrawal of the non-U.S. foreign troops from Iraq by five months for combat troops starting from January and seven months for the rest of the troops.

The cabinet draft was mainly to affect the roughly 4,000 British troops in southern Iraq.

Earlier in the month, John Wilkes, British foreign office spokesman, told the state-run al-Sabah newspaper that his government was negotiating with its Iraqi counterpart to conclude an agreement similar to the U.S. and Iraqi security pact.

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

In July, Brown said that he wanted to cut the number of Britain's troops but ruled out a timetable for their withdrawal.


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