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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Blair denies secret deal with Bush to invade Iraq

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Jan 29, IRNA -- Former prime minister Tony Blair Friday denied striking a "covert" deal with then US President George Bush to invade Iraq at a private meeting a year before the 2003 war.

Although no one else was at the meeting at Bush’s Crawford ranch in April 2002, Blair insisted that he had been "open" about what had been discussed -that Saddam Hussein had to be dealt with and "the method of doing that is open".

"We have to deal with his WMD and if that means regime change so be it," he said during the first phase of giving evidence to the Iraq inquiry.

The former premier is alleged to have made a secret deal with Bush to support the US militarily in carrying out the US policy of regime change, even though it is against British law.

He said that did not set conditions when he told the former US president that he would support him in his drive to deal with Iraq.

The US-UK relationship was an alliance, not a contract, he said.

Blair avoided hundreds of protesters, who want to put him on trial for war crimes, by arriving two hours early at Queen Elizabeth II for his first questioning at the Iraq inquiry.

The former premier is also being challenged about the dubious legality of the war, attempts to justify it on the basis of mass weapons of destruction that were never found and the lack of military planning that led to virtual civil war in Iraq among many contentious issues.

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End News / IRNA / News Code 926209



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