UK to pull troops from Iraq in spring

Updated: 2007-03-01 13:42

PORT DICKSON, Malaysia - Britain will recall its first batch of around 1,500 troops from Iraq in the next two to three months, army chief General Richard Dannatt said Thursday.

"We are following the plans that our government laid down and as announced in London, we are withdrawing the first 1,500 (troops) or so in the next two or three months," Dannatt, who is on an official visit here, told reporters.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair last week laid out plans to withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq over the coming months and to further cut its 7,100-strong contingent by late summer if local forces can secure the southern part of the country.

British troops will remain in Iraq until at least 2008 and work to secure the Iran-Iraq border, and maintain supply routes to US and coalition troops in central Iraq, Blair has said.

"We've got to stay there until we completed the mission, so that may take some time," Dannatt added. He didn't give further details.

He was speaking after attending Malaysia's 74th army day celebrations in the southern town of Port Dickson, where the country's first Malay regiment was formed in 1933.

The Southeast Asian nation gained independence from Britain in 1957, and was under Japanese occupation during World War II.

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