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Blair announces independent inquiry into intelligence for Iraq war

PLA Daily 2004-02-04

LONDON, Feb. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair followed the example of US President George W. Bush Tuesday, announcing that an independent inquiry will be launched into the intelligence used to justify his decision to go to war with Iraq.

He made the announcement before the House of Commons Liaison Committee, one day after Bush announced a similar probe in the United States.

"I think there are issues" about intelligence that need to be looked at, Blair said.

However, he still insisted ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction capability" when Britain and the United States launched the war.

Making the first of his two scheduled appearance before the committee this year, Blair was questioned for two hours by a panel made up of chairmen of various Commons committees.

Blair had refused to hold an inquiry into the apparent failure in tracking down Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Reports said that he urged people to wait for the outcome of the work of the Iraq Survey Group, which has been scouring Iraq for evidence of such weapons.

But pressure has been growing on both sides of the Atlantic since David Kay, the man heading the weapons hunt, quit his post, said intelligence suggesting Saddam had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons was wrong.

On Monday, the opposition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, called for such an inquiry while latest polls also showed a majority of Britons hoped for an independent public inquiry into the government's evidence for the war with Iraq.

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