Lessons need to be learnt from Iraq war, says Brown
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
London, March 17, IRNA
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to hold a full-scale inquiry into the mistakes made in Iraq before and since the invasion five years ago, saying that any lessons need to be learnt.
But Brown ruled out holding an immediate investigation, insisting that the time was not right as the situation in Iraq remains "fragile" and British troops are still trying to bring stability to the country.
"There will come a time when it is appropriate to hold an inquiry," he said.
"There is a need to learn all possible lessons from the military action in Iraq and its aftermath," he told Sunder Katwala, general secretary of the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society.
"But whilst the whole effort of the Government and the armed forces is directed towards supporting the people and government of Iraq as they forge a future based on reconciliation, democracy, prosperity and security, we believe that is not now," Brown said.
British opposition parties have repeated called for an independent inquiry into the Iraq war, but this has consistently been refused by the government.
The prime minister's pledge came in a letter to Katwala, who urged him to mark this week's fifth anniversary of the disastrous US-led invasion by announcing an inquiry.
"Despite the progress made on the security, economic and political fronts in Iraq, the situation remains fragile and could easily be reversed," Brown said.
"At this critical time it is therefore vital that the Government does not divert attention from supporting Iraq's development as a secure and stable country," he said.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose party was always opposed to the war, welcomed the prime minister's support for an inquiry but said it was "overdue."
"There are questions that need to be asked. What was the rationale for the decision to go to war, and how much genuine discussion took place at cabinet level?" Clegg said in an article for the Independent newspaper Monday.
He said there was a need to answer how much of the decisions were made by US President George W Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair "in secret" and what was the advice from the intelligence agencies, the Defence Ministry and Foreign Office.
The Conservative's shadow foreign secretary William Hague expressed concern that the inquiry might not start for another five years.
"Lessons have got to be learned, and visibly learned, and we have got to start on that process now. We will be raising this again in Parliament in the coming weeks," Hague told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme on Sunday.
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