Britain's Gordon Brown says more British troops will leave Iraq in 2009

Britain will begin a major troop withdrawal from Iraq in early 2009, if security continues to improve and work to train local security forces is completed, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday. Britain currently has around 4,100 troops in Iraq, based mainly on the outskirts of the southern Iraqi city of Basra, and will keep current numbers in place for several months, Brown told lawmakers. But Brown said Britain's role in Iraq will change fundamentally next year, switching from a focus on combat and military training to tasks aimed at boosting the economy of the oil-rich southern region. He said that from early next year Britain's troops will begin to complete missions to train Iraqi soldiers, police and military specialists, meaning troops can be withdrawn.