Add to My Yahoo!

Britain says it is important to stay the course in Iraq

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday November 9, 2006

London- British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett Thursday warned against any "precipitous moves" to withdraw British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. "We must not let it happen. In both Afghanistan and Iraq we have to have the courage of our convictions," Beckett said in a speech in London.

Commenting on the results of the mid-term elections in the US, Beckett said she did not believe they would lead to a major change of policy towards Iraq.

There would be a "reassessment" of the position rather than any major changes, she said. "I am not myself anticipating some major upheaval in policy."

Beckett warned that the future of Iraq was at present "hanging in the balance" with a very real risk of even further violence and instability.

"The situation in Iraq is one which is dangerous and volatile. We are at a critical juncture which the fate of that country hangs in the balance. There is the very real risk of even greater instability and bloodshed than we have already seen."

Beckett insisted that Britain would honour its commitment to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to retain UK forces in the country for as long as they were required.

Those who were asking for "more precipitous action" over Iraq should know that they would leave the country "without the tools to enforce the rule of law and without the authority to prevent their country from being turned into a base for terrorism," Beckett said.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency