From the TimesOnline
Britain and Iraq announced an accelerated timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from much of Iraq today during a surprise visit by Tony Blair to show his support for the country’s new government.
Britain could return two southern provinces to Iraqi security control within in a few months. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s new Prime Minister, said that he expected as many as 16 of the 18 provinces to be “Iraqi-ised” – under the control of Iraqi forces – by the end of this year.
The timetable will increase pressure on the United States to set its own deadlines for withdrawal, which Bush Administration officials have steadily refused to do for fear of handing a propaganda victory to al-Qaeda linked insurgents.