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Blair on surprise visit to Iraq

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Blair on surprise visit to Iraq

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British Prime Minister Tony Blair has landed in Baghdad on a visit to mark the formation of Iraq’s new government. His visit has been shrouded in secrecy, for security reasons. Blair arrived in the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone as two bomb attacks in other parts of the city claimed at least five lives.

He is to hold talks with Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. Washington and London are counting on the new leader, a tough talking Shi’ite Islamist, to start tackling the violence that has engulfed the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein three years ago.

A senior British official travelling with Blair has said Maliki’s government will accelerate the handover of security control from US-led coalition forces to Iraqi troops, with a handover of power expected in several provinces during the summer.