The White House has confirmed that a plan to significantly cut the number of US troops in Iraq by the end of 2007 has been drawn up. But spokesman Tony Snow stressed it was simply one of several proposals under consideration and was not “engraved in stone”. There are currently 130,000 American troops in the country.The news comes as British and Australian forces begin packing up in Muthanna, ready to hand over to Iraqis. Colonel Giles Vosper-Brown, taskforce commander in the southern province, said it was an important step. “The symbolism of this is that it gives hope,” he said. “If one takes the events of the last few weeks with the formation of the government, the killing of Zarqawi, the first province to achieve Iraqi transition, it just gives hope.” Iraqi forces will take over the allied camp once the 700 British and Australian troops have left. Japan has also been closing its humanitarian mission in nearby Samawah.