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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 05:05 GMT 06:05 UK
General seeks UK Iraq withdrawal
General Sir Richard Dannatt
General Sir Richard Dannatt speaking on Breakfast
The head of the British Army has said the presence of UK armed forces in Iraq "exacerbates the security problems".

In an interview in the Daily Mail, Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, is quoted as saying the British should "get out some time soon".

He also said: "Let's face it, the military campaign we fought in 2003, effectively kicked the door in."

  • This morning on Breakfast, we spoke to General Sir Richard Dannatt. You can watch that interview from the link to the right
  • There are currently more than 7,000 British soldiers in Iraq, based largely in Basra in the south of the country.

    Sir Richard told Breakfast that he stood by his comments up to a point - although they were taken out of context.

    "There are some parts of southern Iraq that we are responsible, but because we are there, we present a target, we are attacked, if don't require to be in a place, then those are the ones we are leaving."

    On the issue of withdrawal, Sir Richard said that should happen when the mission started three and a half years ago was 'substantially' complete.

    He added "We have a responsibility to see this thing through, we've worked hard with our coalition partners to put a democratic government in place... we also hope we can get the economy started."

    "That country is sitting on the world's second largest remaining supply of oil, if they can't make a success of it, goodness knows."

    Sir Richard said he was surprised how the media coverage had snowballed, "I wonder who had actually read my interview" he said.

    The interview had taken an hour and a half, and had been cleared by the secretary of state with an MOD press officer present.

    "We will see it through to the end, but we can't allow it go on indefinitely, we're heavily committed elsewhere... our army is of a finite size".

    "I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them
    Sir Richard Dannatt

    In the newspaper interview, Sir Richard added that any initial tolerance "has largely turned to intolerance. That is a fact."

    Sir Richard, who took on his role in August, also said planning for what happened after the initial successful war military offensive was "poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning".

    'Not invited in'

    He said: "I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them."

    Sir Richard told the newspaper: "We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear.

    "As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time."

    He added: "Whatever consent we may have had in the first place, may have turned to tolerance and has largely turned to intolerance."



    VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
    General Sir Richard Dannatt
    Speaking on today's Breakfast



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