Stabilizing Iraq could take up to 10 years, British Foreign Secretary

It could be five or 10 years before Iraq becomes a stable democratic country, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

Straw told the British Broadcasting Corp.'s "Newsnight" program late Wednesday that there was no timetable for the withdrawal of British troops, but he hoped it would take place within "a very limited number of years."

"I am optimistic about Iraq, I think in five to 10 years we will see it becoming stable," Straw said.

"I think if you compare nation-building in other situations after the war in Europe, building up stable nations from the collapse of the Soviet Union, look at Afghanistan, I think that's a reasonable prospect."

Straw said British troops would remain in the country until Iraqi security forces were able to take over.

"There is no date set (for withdrawal) but we all hope it can be completed in a matter of a very limited number of years," he said.

Britain currently has about 8,500 troops in Iraq, based in the south of the country, reports the AP.


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