Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Britain and Iraq to sign security pact

London has affirmed that a comprehensive agreement with Baghdad is at hand similar to the US-Iraq security pact and the framework agreement.

It has announced that London plans to withdraw British troops from Iraq and keep a specified number of troops to train Iraqi Forces, British Cabinet John Wilkes said. In a phone conversation with Al Sabah Newspaper from his headquarters in London, he affirmed that the British Cabinet is negotiating with Iraqi Government to hold a bilateral agreement similar to US-Iraq security pact.

Wilkes added that Baghdad and London will end negotiations on the agreement within the coming days stressing on the necessity of the pact since UN expires at the end of the coming month. He noted that British officials especially Prime Minister Gordon Brown expect a serious change on the presence of UK troops in Iraq in anticipation to shifting the military presence into a civil role and developing relations in economic, educational, industrial, cultural and investment fields.

According to Wilkes, upon the request of the Iraqi Government, a limited number of UK troops will remain in Iraq to train and rehabilitate the Iraqi Army 14th Division in Basra as well as to upgrade the Navy in Southern Iraq affirming at the same time that London needs a legal coverage to stay in Iraq in line with normal bilateral relations.

As for the number of troops remaining in Iraq, British Cabinet spokesman said there is no definite number yet noting that London expects a major drop in the number of UK troops. He asserted as well that the pact with Baghdad will not be passed to the British Parliament and there is no need to vote on it especially that it will be concluded between the Iraqi and British Governments paving the way for a new phase of relations.

Read the article on Alsumaria here

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