LONDON - July 31, 2007 - Gordon Brown has paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq by telling George Bush he would not delay their exit in order to show unity with the United States.
After four hours of one-to-one talks with the U.S. President at his Camp David retreat, Mr. Brown told a joint press conference he would make a Commons statement in October on the future of the 5,500 British troops in the Basra region.
The Bush regime, under mounting domestic pressure to produce an exit strategy from Iraq, has been nervous that a full British withdrawal would add to the criticism. But Mr. Brown made clear - and President Bush accepted - that Britain would go its own way, even if that gave the impression the two countries were diverging.
Mr. Brown's willingness to pursue an independent British policy in Iraq will be seen as an important break with Tony Blair. Mr. Brown said the two leaders had "full and frank discussions" - diplomatic code for some disagreements.