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Families reject Blair apology over Iraq dead

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on January 21, 2011

By DAVID STRINGER

LONDON — Former Prime Minister Tony Blair offered an emotional apology for the deaths of soldiers and civilians in Iraq, as he testified Friday to Britain’s inquiry into the war.

The 57-year-old Blair, making a second appearance before the panel to clarify evidence he gave to the same panel a year ago, also urged Western leaders to confront a growing threat posed by Iran.

Addressing the five-member panel scrutinizing Britain’s role in the unpopular war, Blair acknowledged that in phone calls and messages in 2002 – months before Parliament approved Britain’s role in the conflict – he reassured U.S. President George W. Bush and told him: “You can count on us.”

Alongside his evidence, the inquiry published a previously unseen 2002 memo from Blair to his chief of staff, in which the leader called for a “gung-ho” approach toward Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Critics of the war hope the inquiry will conclude Blair had been determined to back the U.S. invasion, whether or not it was supported by the public, Parliament or legal opinion. Read the rest of this entry »

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