The partition of Iraq is not on the agenda, Britain's finance minister and prime ministerial hopeful Gordon Brown said on Thursday amid scrutiny of the United States-led coalition's strategy there.
"I don't think that's the plan or the possibility at the moment," Chancellor of the Exchequer Brown, who is widely tipped to take over from Prime Minister Tony Blair by next September, told BBC radio.
"What really people are talking about is how we can bring security to the whole country, strengthening the forces of democracy.
"Nobody in our government or, I believe, anywhere else is talking about the partition of this country."
Spiralling sectarian violence and mounting coalition casualties have focused attention on the US and British strategy in Iraq, including calls for a withdrawal and possible partition of the country along ethnic lines.
US President George W Bush and Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have insisted though that their plan to pacify the warring factions is on track, despite the violence that threatens to plunge the country into civil war.
Earlier this week, Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett conceded that partition of Iraq into separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shia states may be a solution in the future but any decision was a matter for Baghdad.
Brown echoed Blair and other senior ministers by saying that it was crucial to sort out the security situation in Iraq before reducing any of Britain's 7,000-strong force based predominantly in the south of the Gulf state.