British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise first visit to Iraq today and announced that he'll withdraw 1,000 troops by the end of the year. He spent an hour with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, and was expected to meet with Gen. David Petraeus in advance of addressing parliament next week, the BBC reports. Britain currently has 5,500 soldiers stationed at Basra Airport,.
Brown said today that he believes Basra province can be handed over to full Iraqi control in the next two months. The visit comes amid speculation that Brown will call a snap election to capitalize on the popularity of his Iraq drawdown. "Hopefully they will be home by Christmas," he said of the British troops.