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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UK opposition leader accused of using Iraq trip for self-promotion

IRNA

London, Dec 20, IRNA -- The British government has accused the new 
opposition Conservative leader Michael Howard of transforming a 
carefully arranged secret visit to Iraq into an exercise of self- 
promotion. 
Howard flew to Basra on Thursday, where it was reportedly planned 
that he would be joined by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram on a 
Christmas visit to boost the morale of British troops stationed in 
Iraq`s second biggest city. 
But according to the Times newspaper Saturday, the Conservative 
leader snubbed British troops and left Ingram behind by flying onto 
Baghdad to see the US head of the Coalition Provisional Authority 
Paul Bremer and other officials. 
His behavior led Ingram to accuse Howard of using the trip to 
"promote himself" rather than to demonstrate cross-party support for 
British troops over Christmas, the daily said. 
Military officers also reportedly said that the Tory leader, who 
was only appointed last month, had compromised security plans by 
breaking an understanding that he would not publicize the visit until 
his return. 
The accusations were denied by Howard, who insisted that he did 
not go to Iraq for political purpose but to "say a big thank you" to 
British troops. 
The row comes amid a widening gap between Britain`s two main 
political parties over the Iraq, with the Conservatives keep pressing 
the government over its use of intelligence to justify the war even 
though it strongly backed the use of military action. 
HC/216 
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