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Ex-Saddam aids want to talk to London

LONDON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Three high-ranking officials in the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein offered to testify before a London inquiry into the Iraq war, lawyers said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 ordered an investigation into the role London played in the planning stages for the Iraq war beginning in 2001 to when British forces ended their mission there in 2009.

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The inquiry last year heard testimony from top British defense intelligence officials outlining the role London played in the planning stages of the Iraq war starting as early as 2002.

John Chilcot, appointed as the chair of the inquiry, also led examinations into a dossier that alleged Saddam could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.

Giovanni di Stefano, a lawyer representing former Iraqi Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz, Saddam's private secretary Humad Humadi and former Interior Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, or Chemical Ali, sent a letter to Chilcot saying his clients were prepared to testify, British tabloid newspaper The Daily Express reports.

Di Stefano said his clients were prepared to testify through a video link from Iraq but noted they would prefer a special transfer to London to testify in person.

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"Who better to give evidence on what exactly was the position" on Iraq's alleged program of weapons of mass destruction than his clients, di Stefano said in his letter to Chilcot.

The inquiry in December announced the names of witnesses who will testify in January and early February. They include former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a key Washington ally in the war, and Jack Straw, the former secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs.

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