Iraq’s Prime Minister says his forces will next month take over control of security in a region in the south of the country.
Nuri al-Maliki says he is confident his forces are ready to take charge in the Muthanna Province.
It will be the first out of 15 regions in the south to return to full Iraqi control.
A multi-national contingent currently based there is led by the British, and includes soldiers from Japan and Australia.
Some reports say the announcement from Maliki represents the first phase in a move to withdraw foreign troops from the area.
“Every Iraqi hopes the occupation forces will withdraw from the country, whether Japanese, British, American or multi-national troops,” said a journalist in Baghdad.
Another man said: “We hope that all armies in Iraq will put out of Iraq. The American troops and the occupation are the main reasons behind terrorism throughout the country.”
Japan’s Prime Minister today said his country had not decided when to withdraw its troops altogether, but would do so in consultation with Iraqi authorities and its allies.