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Blair defends Iraq war at Chilcot inquiry

media Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives at the Queen Elizabeth … Reuters/Andrew Winning

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair defended his participation in the invasion of Iraq in front of an official inquiry into the UK’s involvement in London on Friday. In his opening remarks, he referred to an alleged threat from Islamic extremism.

“As we begin to write our report, there are a few remaining areas where we need to clarify exactly what happened,” said the inquiry leader John Chilcot on Tuesday when hearings reopened. “It is that which has determined the witnesses in this round.”

Former Attorney General Peter Goldsmith told the inquiry on 4 January that he had not been consulted as much as he would have like in the lead-up to the war.

“My view was that the draft was not sufficient as it stood to authorise the use of force,” said Goldsmith. “I had learned that the Prime Minister had indicated to President Bush that he would join the USA in acting without a second Security Council decision if Iraq failed to take the action that was required by the draft resolution. I thought that such action by the UK would be unlawful.”

Chilcot told the inquiry on Tuesday that he had sought the disclosure of notes recording discussions between Blair and then US President George Bush.

“The inquiry is disappointed that the cabinet secretary was not willing to accede to its request,” he said. “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.”

There are three ways in which a state can claim that its use of force is legal - under mandate from the United Nations Security Council, in self-defence and to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe.

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