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Iraqi President Says British Troops May Leave by End of 2007


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has predicted that British troops will be able to leave Iraq at the end of next year.

Mr. Talabani's comment followed a meeting in Baghdad Tuesday, with British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett. He told reporters he believes Iraqi forces will be ready to take over the country's security by the end of 2007.

Beckett told reporters the Iraqi president was not setting a deadline, but offering his personal opinion. She earlier said transferring security control to the Iraqis is essential.

Earlier, U.S. military officials reported three U.S. service members have been killed near Fallujah, in Iraq's troubled western province of Al Anbar. No specifics were given.

Also, Iraqi officials again extended the state of emergency in their country, giving security forces greater powers to subdue increasing violence.

Days earlier, the United States and Iraq delayed a ceremony handing command of the new Iraqi army to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Iraqi officials said Monday technicalities forced the delay, and that the transfer should occur within a week.

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