LONDON – Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) said Tuesday that Britain has enough troops in Iraq and appeared to rule out sending more immediately despite the withdrawal of Spanish, Honduran and Dominican soldiers.
"We keep the question of troops under review," Blair said at a joint news conference with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi (search), responding to a question about whether he planned to send more soldiers.
"The advice that we have now is that we have sufficient troops to do the job," Blair said.
Britain currently has 7,500 troops in southern Iraq.
"For us, we are determined to see this thing through," Blair said. "We have been greatly heartened also by the news that Japan and South Korea have been committing forces."
Berlusconi told reporters that Italy remained committed to its contribution to the coalition effort.
"We started this mission, and we intend to carry on," he said.
The coalition's aim was "to bring democracy, freedom and human rights" to Iraq, he added.
Berlusconi's conservative government has been a strong ally of President Bush. After the Iraq war, some 3,000 Italian troops and paramilitary troops were deployed in Iraq for reconstruction and humanitarian missions.
"It is important that Iraqis do work with us, not as an occupying force but as we are there to bring them peace and freedom," Berlusconi said, speaking through a translator.
Blair paid tribute to Berlusconi's staunch support, especially at what he called a difficult time. Three private security guards from Italy are being held hostage by Iraqi insurgents.
"We send our deep sympathy and our concern and our best wishes to the Italian people and the families of the hostages," Blair said.