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Blair defends Iraq War decision following damning Chilcot report


Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is asking for people to stop saying he was lying over his decision to lead the UK into war in Iraq in 2003.

Tony Blair, the former prime minister who led Britain into war in Iraq in 2003, is defending his legacy following the publication of a highly critical report into the war with a simple message: "Please stop saying I was lying".

The long-awaited report into a war which has cast a shadow over British foreign policy for more than a decade found that Blair relied on flawed intelligence and that the way the war was legally authorised was unsatisfactory.

But Blair, whose legacy as a three-times election winner for the centre-left Labour Party has been overshadowed by years of accusations that he had lied to exaggerate the intelligence case for war, said the report vindicated his "hardest, most momentous and agonising decision".

Blair faced hostile questioning from national and international media, who said his assurances to former US President George Bush had amounted to a "blank cheque for war" and that he had abandoned diplomatic channels too easily.

In response, during a 109-minute news conference, Blair was at times contrite and emotional, and at other times clearly angry at the way his actions had been portrayed.

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Chilcot report slams UK involvement in Iraq War

The Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq has slammed former prime minister Tony Blair and his government for using 'flawed intelligence', poor planning and ignoring warnings.

"If you disagree with me fine, but please stop saying I was lying or I had some sort of dishonest or underhand motive," he told reporter.

"'You lied about the intelligence' - that's what people say the whole time," Blair said.

"Actually if people are being fair and read the whole report, that allegation should be put to rest, because it's not true and it never was true."

In a statement which was twice as long as that delivered by the chairman of the inquiry, John Chilcot, Blair sought to address the full spectrum of criticism levelled at him, saying he accepted total responsibility "without exception or excuse".

He acknowledged failing to adequately plan for the aftermath of the invasion which triggered sectarian violence and protracted British military involvement.

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Howard 'embarrassed' about joining 2003 Iraq war

Former Prime Minister John Howard has said he was 'embarrassed' that Australia joined the war in Iraq in 2003.

In six years, more than 150,000 civilians and 179 British soldiers died.

But he disputed one of the report's key findings; that diplomatic options had not been exhausted at the point he decided to join the US invasion, saying he had faced a "binary" decision which could not have been delayed.

Drawing his media appearance to a close after more than an hour of questions, he said that on the basis of the information he had at the time, he would take the same decision again.

Let Chilcot be guide for Australia: Leahy

A former Australian chief of army believes a seven-year inquiry into the Iraq war should act as a guide for Australia's future.

Responding to the 2.6 million-word Chilcot report, Peter Leahy - who oversaw the army from 2002-2008 - says Australia needs to be careful of "blindly" going along with its international partners.

"Frankly, some of the decisions the United States, our senior partner in our strategic alliance, have made over the last 20 or 30 years have been a bit crook," he told ABC TV.

"I think it does give us this really important guide to the future, that we need to be able to take independent, sovereign decisions based on our own national interests and what the strategies might be."

Professor Leahy said Australia had very little say in what happened in 2004 and 2005 and many decisions made then led to much of the chaos nowadays.

He doesn't believe there needs to be a similar review in Australia.

"Let's have a discussion not an inquiry around our relationship with the United States, how we decide to go to war and very importantly how we decide everyday when we are at war, to stay at war."

Source AFP