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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 19:28 GMT
Iraq PM leaves for check-up in UK
Nouri Maliki
Mr Maliki was said to be exhausted by continuous work
Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki has left for medical tests in Britain. His spokesman said he was in good health but suffering from mild exhaustion.

He said recent security improvements had given Mr Maliki, 57, the chance to make his trip now.

Mr Maliki himself said he was going for routine check-ups and would return to Iraq soon.

State television showed him looking healthy as he walked to his plane at Baghdad airport from the terminal.

Decline in violence

A British government spokesman confirmed the planned visit but had no other comment.

Recent months have seen a decline in violence in Iraq as the American troop surge takes hold and Sunni nationalists lose patience with al-Qaeda.

But Mr Maliki has been struggling to form a new government including Sunni representatives as well as his own Shia supporters.

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