British troops could leave Iraq by end of 2006

British troops could leave Iraq by the end of 2006, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has predicted. In a TV interview to be broadcast in Britain on Sunday, Talabani said no Iraqis wanted foreign troops to remain indefinitely in their country, adding that homegrown troops should be ready to take over from British forces in the southern provinces around Basra by the end of next year. But he warned that an immediate withdrawal of US-led forces would be a catastrophe for Iraq and would lead to civil war, with harmful consequences for the whole Middle East.