British PM to visit US; plans to discuss Iraq

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will hold talks with US President George W. Bush in Washington later this week and they would likely focus on the future withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq, officials said Monday. Blair will arrive in Washington "at the end of the week," his official spokesman said, adding that he could not confirm the precise date of the visit because of security concerns. Blair was in Iraq on Monday to support the country's new government. During his visit to Baghdad, Blair said coalition troops are in now a position to begin the process of handing over control of some Iraqi provinces to local security forces. However, Blair refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of the 8,000 British troops and said their return home will be governed by conditions on the ground and by the readiness of Iraqis to assume security responsibilities.