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UK Troops to Stay in Iraq Until 2010

British troops face up to four more years of service in Iraq, as the country\'s newly-elected government struggles to establish territorial control. As the level of inter-ethnic strife continues to rise across the country, it has emerged that the prospect of a swift withdrawal of all 7,200 British troops is negligible. Senior officials travelling with the Prime Minister indicated that 2010 could be the target date for ending Britain\'s peacekeeping role. Even after that date, military personnel could still be in Iraq helping advise and train government forces. The UK holds four out of Iraq\'s 18 provinces. Maysan and Muthanna provinces are relatively free of insurgency and sectarian violence, giving rise to the hope that British troops stationed there can be pulled out during the summer. But withdrawal from the other British held provinces, Basra and Dhi Kar, is expected to take far longer. It was considered too risky for Mr Blair to be in Baghdad overnight so he flew to Kuwait on Sunday night, amid a security blackout and flew on to an airfield inside Iraq early yesterday morning in a Hercules military transport aircraft, transferring there to the Chinook. He flew back to Kuwait at the end of his visit after talks with Jalal Talibani, the Iraqi President. Anybody entering the Green Zone on foot has to negotiate eight checkpoints defended by heavily armed troops and guards surrounded by sandbags, razor wire, sniffer dogs and X-ray machines.