British minister meets Iraqi PM Maliki in Baghdad

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Britain's new Defence Secretary John Hutton made his first visit to Iraq on Sunday and met Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

Hutton, the former business secretary, took over the defence portfolio in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle on 3 October. Britain has about 4,000 troops in Iraq, mainly at an air base outside the southern city of Basra.

Britain, like the United States, is negotiating a bilateral agreement with Baghdad to allow its troops to stay on after a UN Security Council mandate expires at the end of the year.