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UK Sets Iraq Pullout Timetable

CNN: British Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to withdraw nearly half of Britain's troops from Iraq by the end of 2007, British media reported ear

CNN:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to withdraw nearly half of Britain's troops from Iraq by the end of 2007, British media reported early Wednesday.

He's expected to make the announcement around noon (7 a.m. ET) during his weekly question-and-answer session in the House of Commons.

On Tuesday White House officials confirmed British media reports that 1,500 soldiers will return to Britain in the near future. (Watch what may be the factors behind the decision Video)

The Sun newspaper put the timeframe for that withdrawal at "within weeks" and reported that 3,000 will follow suit by the end of the year. Britain has a contingent of 7,000 in Iraq now, based mostly in the southern city of Basra.

White House administration officials said the British plan calls for a withdrawal of 1,700 troops -- from about 7,200 -- by May, when the next troop rotation is finished.

The move comes a month after Blair said that an "arbitrary timetable" for withdrawal "would send the most disastrous signal to the people we are fighting in Iraq."

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