Iraq: UK troops to leave next year

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The president told that Iraqis did not want foreign troops to remain indefinitely.

However, he warned that multinational forces had to withdraw gradually if the country was not to fall into a civil war.

“Within one year….Iraqi troops will be ready to replace British forces in the south,” he said.

The head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, said Mr Talabani’s prediction of a British departure by the end of 2006 was “well within the range of what is realistically possible”, but “it’s a question of achieving the right conditions”.