Tony Blair to meet with his Iraqi counterpart

Blair's talks with Nouri al-Maliki also will likely include an examination of plans to continue the handover of southern Iraqi provinces from coalition forces to local authorities, Downing Street said. Iraqi forces took control of security in the province of Muthanna earlier this month.

A statement from the Iraq government said al-Maliki also wanted to discuss the continuing conflict between Israel and Lebanon and its "negative influence on the region."

Speaking Monday on British Broadcasting Corp. radio, al-Maliki said he would press for an urgent cease-fire.

"I can't find enough justification for what is happening," he said. "The destruction of infrastructure is not consistent with the rules of war,  if we can even say that there is a war."

This is al-Maliki's first official visit to Britain. He is accompanied by Iraq's ministers for oil, electricity, trade and human rights. After his meeting with Blair, he is expected to travel to Washington for discussions with U.S. President George W. Bush, the AP reports.

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