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Straw confirms Mexico query on UK spying ahead of Iraq war

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 27, IRNA - Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has confirmed 
that the Mexican government has asked him to clarify whether Britain 
GCHQ spying agency was involved in placing surveillance on other 
members of the UN Security Council in the run up to the Iraq war. 
"The British Embassy in Mexico City has received a Note Verbale 
from the Mexican Government on this issue," Straw said in a written 
reply to parliament published Friday without offering further 
information. 
"It is a well-established and long-standing practice of 
successive governments not to respond to speculation about alleged 
operational activities by the UK Security and Intelligence Services," 
he said. 
His confirmation comes after an Official Secrets Act court case 
was suddenly dropped against former GHCQ employee Katharine Gun on 
Wednesday for leaking a memo alleging a US `dirty tricks` operation 
ahead of the Iraq war last March. 
The memo, given to the Observer newspaper, revealed that the US 
asked to spy on six UN Security Council members, including Mexico, 
Whose votes were needed to back taking military action. 
On Thursday, former International Development Secretary Clare 
Short further provoked the controversy by claiming that British spies 
also bugged the office of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. 
Prime Minister Tony Blair has declined to comment on the veracity 
of accusations, but insisted that his refusal to issue a denial should
not be interpreted that the spying charges were true. 
HC/214 
End 



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