A US request for a redeployment of British troops in Iraq is causing waves in the UK parliament.
Defence Minister Geoff Hoon has denied suggestions it is politically motivated to boost President George Bush’s presidential campaign. The Pentagon wants 650 soldiers to be sent to an area south of Baghdad. Hoon says it is intended to free up US forces for trouble spots. He told the House of Commons it was a military request, adding that it was linked to elections but not in the US; it was about securing Iraq for its ownelections in January. Britain was America’s main ally at the start of the conflict, sending some 45,000 troops. That number has since been scaled down to more than 9,000 across the region. Most are based in Basra in the south of Iraq. Hoon has said he will consult with British commanders before giving a response to the Americans.