Brown in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi PM

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown flew into Baghdad today to discuss plans for the final drawdown of British troops in Iraq from early next year,

On an unannounced visit to the country, the Prime Minister was holding talks with his Iraqi counterpart Nouri Maliki about the status of UK forces in Basra over the months ahead.

The Iraqi council of ministers yesterday agreed a new resolution allowing British troops to remain in the country until the end of July.

Their current United Nations mandate expires at the end of the month.

British officials predict major withdrawals within a few months and say the resolution merely set a last possible date for the vast majority of Britain's 4,100-strong contingent to be gone.

Mr Brown is expected to confirm the outlines of the plans today before updating the House of Commons in greater detail tomorrow.

The Prime Minister is being accompanied on the visit by the Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff.