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Brown Says Troop Pullout From Iraq Does Not Mean Defeat

Brown announced the troop withdrawal during his October 2 visit to Iraq (AFP) October 8, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today gave further details of Britain's plans, announced during his visit to Baghdad last week, to withdraw 1,000 British troops from Iraq by the end of the year.

At a press conference today, Brown said the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq is not an admission of defeat or a threat to security, but is part of a handover of power to Iraqi forces.

"When we announce less troops in Iraq, it's because we are winning the security battle and that there is a lull in some of the fighting that is taking place in Iraq, and we hope it's a permanent lull," Brown said. "Equally at the same time, if we reduce our troops, it's because the Iraqi people are now capable, with 30,000 security forces in the south alone, of replacing several hundred British troops."

Speaking in Baghdad on October 2, Brown said that 1,000 more British troops could leave Iraq by the end of the year. He said the role of the British troops will change together with the changing situation on the ground.

In today's speech, Brown also warned Iran not to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs.

Iran "must not intervene in Iraq in a way that is breeding further violence, supporting terrorism, and causing the loss of life in what is an infant democracy trying to make its way forward," Brown said. He added that Iran "must hear the message that interference in another country's affairs, as they have done without any support from the United Nations or any international organization, is unacceptable."

On October 7, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said there is "no question" that Iran has supplied arms, training, funding and in some cases the direction for operations to Iraqi militants. Petraeus also said that Iran's ambassador to Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, is a member of the Qods force of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

Brown said that he would not rule out any option in dealing with the crisis over Iran's nuclear program. He said Iran's determination to pursue nuclear enrichment activities could not go unchallenged, and was a "breach of the non-proliferation treaty:"

"We take very seriously what Iran is proposing and we are prepared to use the methods that we have used -- diplomatic [methods] and sanctions -- to deal with this problem. And I do not rule out anything," Brown said.

Brown is scheduled to make a statement on Iraq to the British parliament later today.

RFE/RL Iraq Report

RFE/RL Iraq Report

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