Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Italy Pullout Puts Pressure on PM over Iraq Troops

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Italy Pullout Puts Pressure on PM over Iraq Troops

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

TONY BLAIR was under pressure today to announce a timetable for withdrawing British troops from Iraq after Italy said it would start a pullout this year.

Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi - a key George Bush ally - revealed he had spoken to Mr Blair about a "precise exit strategy" as he announced Italy's forces would start leaving in September.

In a signal Downing Street is in no mood to back off from defending the war, Cherie Blair was set to join MPs marking the anniversary of Saddam Hussein's 1988 chemical weapons attack at Halabja.

The premier's wife is expected to take the rare step of appearing in the Commons to commemorate the killing of 5,000 Kurds by Saddam's poison gas.

The new Iraqi parliament was meeting for the first time today to try to select the country's first elected government in decades.

Italy's decision to start withdrawing its 3,000 troops will leave Britain as the only European country with a serious presence. …

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