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Iraq signs foreign troops deals

British soldier in Basra (17 December 2008)
British troops are based in the southern city of Basra

Iraq has signed deals with Britain and Australia for their troops to stay in the country after a UN mandate expires on 1 January, Iraq's government says.

It says the accords authorise UK and Australian forces to stay until July.

Britain has 4,100 troops based in the southern city of Basra, while Australia has 1,000 soldiers also in the south.

The US - who led the 2003 invasion into Iraq - earlier this year signed a deal with Baghdad allowing its 140,000 forces to stay until the end of 2011.

Apart from the US, UK and Australia, the only countries continuing to provide troops for the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) are El Salvador, Estonia and Romania.

Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said on Tuesday that separate deal with those countries would be signed in the next few days.



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