The Iraqi president and prime minister have welcomed Tony Blair’s decision to withdraw some troops, and Iraq’s national security adviser said he only wished the force reduction would happen sooner. The British prime minister announced Wednesday that he intends to withdraw 1,600 soldiers from Southern Iraq.


The prime minister acknowledged that Basra was still “difficult and sometimes dangerous”, but he said levels of murder and kidnappings had dropped and reconstruction was under way.

He said that it was important to show the Iraqis that Britain – and the other multinational force members – did not intend their forces to stay longer than necessary.

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s national security adviser, praised the efforts of the British Army but wished the pullout could be quicker.

He told BBC Radio 4 programme: “We would have hoped that the process would’ve been accelerated further and speeded up rather than be spaced out. ”

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