"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Britain's senior representative in Iraq said British forces will remain in Iraq through 2007 and perhaps into 2008 if the Baghdad government asks for continued help.
"Do I see ourselves being here throughout 2007? Yes," said Army Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, deputy commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq.
"Do I see that commitment being carried on to 2008? That will be for discussion among this sovereign government, my government, our part in the coalition and the like," he told reporters at the Pentagon in a teleconference from Iraq. "But if we're asked to stay here then I don't see any reason, although it's a political one, that we would not continue to remain committed to the Iraqis."
Lamb said Britain has about 6,200 troops in southern Iraq, mostly in Basra. That is slightly below the normal level of nearly 7,300, he said.
Prime Minister Tony Blair on January 10 said British operations aimed at preparing for the handover of security in Basra to Iraqi authorities could be completed in the next few weeks. The Daily Telegraph also has reported that Britain planned to cut troop levels in Iraq by almost 3,000 by the end of May."