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Blair Expected To Announce Withdrawal of British Troops From Iraq


British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to announce Wednesday a timetable for British troops to start withdrawing from Iraq.

British media reports say Mr. Blair is to annouce in the House of Commons that 1,500 soldiers may start pulling out of Iraq within a few weeks and another 1,500, by the end of the year.

The prime minister's Downing Street office in London declined to comment on the reports.

But in Washington, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said President Bush and Mr. Blair held a telephone conversation Tuesday to discuss the troop withdrawal.

The spokesman said Mr. Bush views the withdrawal as a sign of success since British forces are able to transfer more control to Iraqis.

About 7,000 British troops, serving as part of the U.S.-led coalition, are mostly based in southern Iraq.

The news of British troop withdrawal comes at a time when the Bush administration is sending 21,000 more troops to Iraq as part of Mr. Bush's new strategy.

Prime Minister Blair has been one of Mr. Bush's staunchest allies on the war in Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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