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London sets 2011 for Iraqi inquiry report

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LONDON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- There are gaps remaining in a London inquiry into the Iraq war that need to be filled before findings are released in 2011, the head of the panel said.

London is examining its role in the Iraq war from the planning stages to the departure of British forces in 2009. Inquiry director John Chilcot said he would lead a team to Iraq to examine the war first hand.

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Five members of the inquiry panel interviewed several Iraqi leaders during a September visit to Baghdad, including former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Shiite movement Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.

Canon Andrew White, the so-called vicar of Baghdad, described his talks with the inquiry panel as helpful.

"We were able to talk openly and honestly about the situation here," the Anglican priest said in a statement.

In June, the inquiry called for international lawyers to weigh in on the legal arguments used by London to justify the military invasion. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the inquiry in 2009 that if disarming Iraq led to the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, then "so be it."

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The panel said it received 35 briefs on the matter as of Sept. 13. Chilcot said he had more evidence to gather before submitting his final report, however.

"Writing the report is an immense task but our objective remains to publish the report in early 2011," he said in a statement.

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