British PM says mission to Iraq to end May 31

Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the British mission in Iraq will end no later than May 31, 2009. Brown made the announcement Wednesday during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. He says he plans to provide details to the British parliament about troop withdrawal on Thursday. Brown also called for the unconditional release of five British hostages held in Iraq since 2007. His announcement follows news that the Iraqi government issued a resolution calling for all non-US troops to withdraw by the end of July. Britain is the second-largest contributor to the international military coalition in Iraq after the United States. About 4,000 British troops are now in Iraq, mostly in the country's south.