Bush, Blair talks focus of Iraq inquiry

May 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM
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LONDON, May 22 (UPI) -- A British tribunal ordered the government to release details of conversations it had with Washington one week before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

A panel investigating the British role in the Iraq war overturned objections from the government that releasing information about conversations between former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former President George W. Bush could harm national security interests.

"The circumstances surrounding a decision by a U.K. government to go to war with another country is always likely to be of very significant public interest, even more so with the consequences of this war," the panel was quoted by The Independent newspaper in London as saying.

U.S. military forces started operations in Iraq on March 20, 2003. On March 10 of that year, French President Jacques Chirac had said Paris would veto any U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

Two days later, according to The Independent, Blair and Bush discussed whether or not to seek U.N. authorization to invade Iraq to address concerns about a program of weapons of mass destruction.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 called for an inquiry to examine the eight-year period beginning with the push for war in 2001 to July 2009 when British forces ended their mission there.

The inquiry in November said it was handicapped by secrecy issues. A report is said to be expected by summer 2012.

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