British PM visits Iraq before handover in Basra

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in southern Iraq on a surprise visit Sunday to rally troops and confirm that Iraqi forces will take command of the last region under British control within two weeks. Britain plans to hand over responsibility for Basra province to Iraqi forces in mid-December, relinquishing the last of four regions of southern Iraq it occupied after the 2003 invasion. British troops will remain to train and support local forces, Brown said. Soldiers lined the staircases of an airport base to watch Brown's arrival for an hourlong visit, offering thunderous applause as he praised their work in maintaining security in the southern sector of Iraq.