Visiting British prime minister cautious on questions of troop withdrawals in Iraq

(White House image)
(White House image)

CAMP DAVID, Md. (AP) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told President Bush Monday he shares the U.S. view that there are "duties to discharge and responsibilities to keep" in Iraq.

"Our aim, like the United States is, step-by-step to move control to the Iraqi authorities," Brown said, joining Bush at a news conference at the president's Maryland mountaintop ranch.

Brown said that decisions about troops would only be made "on the military advice of our commanders on the ground," echoing language often heard from Bush.

Indeed, minutes later, in response to a question, Bush said: "The decisions on the way forward in Iraq must be made with a military recommendation as an integal part of it."

The United Kingdom's commitment to the war is essential to the Bush administration. Britain has 5,500 troops there, with forces moving from a combat role to aiding local Iraqi forces.

Bush didn't directly answer whether he planned to pass on the war to the next president, who will take office in January 2009. But he hinted that was likely. "This is going to take a long time in Iraq, just like the ideological struggle is going to take a long time," he said.

The Camp David meeting was an attempt by Brown and Bush to seek common footing between leaders new to each other but overseeing one of the world's most important alliances.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)