Defence Secretary Des Browne arrived in Basra this morning on an unannounced visit to British troops in Iraq.
The Ministry of Defence said Mr Browne was on a "general visit" to the country, but declined to say how long he would be there.
Britain's remaining 4,100 troops in Iraq are confined to a base at Basra Air Station after handing over control of the city itself to local authorities in December. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said numbers will be reduced to 2,500 from the spring.
Mr Browne's visit comes a week ahead of the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq on 20 March, 2003.Reuse content