Britain expelled 28 Iraqi diplomats and cut the staff at Iraq's London embassy to four, the Foreign Office said, as senior British officials continued to reject appeasement in the Persian Gulf crisis.

Iraqi Ambassador Azmi Shafiq al Salihi was summoned to the Foreign Office Sunday and asked to cut staff at the embassy from 32 to four within 48 hours. Dependents of the 28 expelled were required to leave within a week, the Foreign Office said."In view of the current state of relations (between Britain and Iraq), the level of staffing presently at the Iraqi embassy was unjustified," the Foreign Office said.

The expulsions followed Britain's recent withdrawal of its six diplomats remaining in Iraq.

Five British diplomats left Baghdad on Thursday and the last left Saturday following the release of engineer Patrick Trigg, who was believed to be the last Briton detained by the Iraqi authorities.

Britain on Thursday had already ordered eight Iraqi diplomats to leave London.

Meanwhile, British Defense Secretary Tom King ruled out postponing military action if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein effected a partial withdrawal from Kuwait.

Speaking on the BBC television program "On The Rec-ord," he also said airfields and missile sites within Iraq would be primary targets in a military effort to force Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

"We must make sure we do as much damage as possible to Iraq's military machine," he said.