British PM sees new Iraq as Gulf security 'cornerstone'
British Prime Minister David Cameron said in comments released on Wednesday that post-invasion Iraq was a lynchpin of Gulf security and promised his government's support.
"I see the new Iraq as a cornerstone of stability in the wider Gulf region," Cameron said in a letter to his Iraqi counterpart, Nuri al-Maliki, excerpts of which were released by the British embassy in Baghdad.
"We would like to support Iraq as it develops its capacity to provide security and stability within its own borders and more widely," he said.
"We will be partners with Iraq in promoting global prosperity. Your wealth of natural resources gives you the chance to transform Iraq's economic future. It is also important for the UK, Europe and the world."
The British prime minister's letter was delivered by the Foreign Office's top diplomat for the Middle East and North Africa, Christian Turner, during a visit to Iraq.
Turner said he had reaffirmed Britain's long-term commitment to Iraq and its hope that a new government would be formed as quickly as possible following the swearing in of the parliament on Monday after a March 7 general election.
"The precise shape of the new government in Baghdad is a matter for the Iraqi people," the British diplomat said.
"We hope it will be formed soon through an inclusive process and will be fully empowered to tackle the challenges Iraq faces," the embassy quoted him as saying.
"I have passed similar messages to the leaders of all the main political blocs in Iraq. They all have an important role to play in building the future."
The continuing power vacuum more than three months after the election, the second national poll since the 2003 US-led invasion and just two months before Washington is due to pull out all combat troops, has prompted growing fears of a new surge in violence.
Government figures showed 337 people were killed in unrest in May, the fourth time this year the overall death toll has been higher than in the same month of 2009.
Britain's direct military role in Iraq is now limited to a small contingent providing naval training after the withdrawal of the rest of its remaining troops from their base outside the southern port city of Basra last year.
© 2010 AFP