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British troop withdrawal from Basra to begin by end of March

Britain, which has agreed to end its military mission in Iraq by July this year, will withdraw its troops based in the oil city of Basra by March-end.

The visiting British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband disclosed this on Friday.

"The British forces' withdrawal from Basra will begin on March 31, 2009, to be replaced by U.S. forces," he was quoted as saying.

Britain's support for Basra would continue, despite the troop withdrawal, he added.

During his visit to the southern Iraqi province, Miliband met with provincial governor Muhammad Musbih al-Waili.

Britain and Australia signed agreements with Iraq to stay on in Baghdad until the end of July.

Britain has the second largest military contingent in Iraq after the U.S., with around 4,100 soldiers, mainly based in Basra.

by RTT Staff Writer

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