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Iraq war inquiry upset by secrecy

Middle East Envoy Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with U.S. President George W. Bush at the Annapolis Peace Conference in Memorial Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on November 27, 2007. The meetings are focused at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/1dfa5f63ad990ac6825289e5aa6449d8/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Middle East Envoy Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with U.S. President George W. Bush at the Annapolis Peace Conference in Memorial Hall at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on November 27, 2007. The meetings are focused at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo

LONDON, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The head of the London inquiry examining the Iraq war said he was "disappointed" by the government's decision to not release notes of talks with Washington.

Inquiry Chairman John Chilcot said he was frustrated by a decision from Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell to keep extracts of notes between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President George W. Bush secret.

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Chilcot in his statement said the inquiry recognized the sensitivity of bilateral exchanges between heads of state but was asking for "key extracts" to highlight Blair's position at "critical points."

"The inquiry is disappointed that the Cabinet secretary was not willing to accede to its request," he said in a statement. "This means that in a narrow but important area the Inquiry may not always be able to publish as fully as it would wish the evidential basis for some of its comments and conclusions."

O'Donnell in a correspondence to Chilcot quoted by the BBC said exchanges between Bush and Blair represented "particularly privileged channels of communication, the preservation of which is strongly in the public interest."

Blair told the inquiry last year that Britain was forced to join the U.S. effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein without U.N. consent because the French government refused to back a second resolution.

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The former prime minister is to testify again before the Chilcot inquiry Friday.

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