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UK to hand over security control to Iraq
www.chinaview.cn 2005-06-02 19:26:07

    LONDON, June 2 (Xinhuanet) -- British troops in southern Iraq are expected to hand over control of security to local Iraqi defense and police forces within a year, British newspaper Financial Times quoted a senior British police officer as reporting on Thursday.

    "I would expect that within the next six to nine months in certain areas under British military control, the day to day running of security will be handed over entirely to the Iraqis," said Paul Kernaghan, the British police force's spokesman on international affairs.

    According to the report, Kernaghan was speaking fresh from an inspection of British police who are training Iraqi police and defense forces and acting as security advisers in southern Iraq.

    The Ministry of Defense is drafting a plan for the deployment of extra British troops to Afghanistan, with the suggestion that this will involve a reduction in the British troops in Iraq, the report said.

    According to other security sources, the withdrawal is for a two-phase program of British demilitarization in the southern areaof Iraq, the report said.

    Under a first phase, which is expected to be under way in March,2006, British troops will withdraw to main army bases from frontaloperational duties, with the capacity to offer support to Iraqi police and defense forces if necessary.

    A second phase will involve a phased withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, although a final decision on this has yet to be taken, and will depend on what progress is made in stabilizing security.

    Britain, a staunch US ally on Iraq, is now positioning about 9,000 troops in Iraq. Enditem

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