Britain to Cut 1,600 Troops in Iraq, Blair Says
By ALAN COWELL
Published: February 21, 2007
LONDON, Feb. 21 — In sharp contrast to the American troop buildup in Baghdad, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced today that Britain will withdraw up to 1,600 of its roughly 7,100 British troops in southern Iraq in the next few months
But a month ago Tony said "setting an "arbitrary timetable would send a disastrous signal to Iraq"
Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 17:12 GMT
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has called for UK troops to leave Iraq by the end of October.
Sir Menzies says a phased withdrawal of British forces should start in May.
But at prime minister's questions Tony Blair dismissed the call, saying that setting an "arbitrary timetable" would send a "disastrous signal" to Iraq
But what about the Australian troops?
PM plays down British troop withdrawal
Wednesday, 21 February , 2007 18:14:00
Reporter: Alexandra Kirk
MARK COLVIN: And despite the confidence of the British newspapers in reporting the phased withdrawal, the pull out, whatever you want to call it, here the Federal Government has been quick to insist that Britain will not be withdrawing from Iraq.
The Government says Britain's reduction of troop numbers has no implications for Australian forces in the south of the country.
The Prime Minister says Australia's contingent of 550 soldiers cannot be reduced, because that would cause it to fall below a critical mass.
And now for something completely different
EXCLUSIVE: Cheney Says British Troop Withdrawal Is Positive Sign
Feb. 21, 2007 — British Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement that British troops will begin withdrawing from Iraq would appear to be bad news for the Bush administration.
But in an exclusive interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney said the move was actually good news and a sign of progress in Iraq.
"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," Cheney told ABC News' Jonathan Karl.
"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels," Cheney said.
ABC News interviewed the vice president in Tokyo, where he told troops aboard the USS Kitty Hawk that the United States would not withdraw until the job was done.
"I want you to know that the American people will not support a policy of retreat," Cheney told the soldiers.
Will Australia Withdraw Troops Next?
Cheney had harsh words for Democratic leaders, including Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha, who says he wants to stop the surge of more U.S. troops into Iraq.
"I think he's dead wrong. I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we'll do is validate the al Qaeda strategy," Cheney said.
"The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people. In fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to convince us to throw in the towel and come home and then they win because we quit."
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain recently lashed out at Cheney and his friend, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. McCain said that Rumsfeld was probably the worst secretary of defense in U.S. history.
Today, Cheney fired back.
"I just fundamentally disagree with John," he said. "John said some nasty things about me the other day and then next time he saw me ran over to me and apologized. Maybe he'll apologize to Rumsfeld."
From Tokyo, Cheney is going to Australia, where the prime minister there is also under pressure to start withdrawing that nation's 2,000 troops from Iraq.