|Saturday, 30 January 2010|
Tony Blair has denied striking a "covert" deal with George Bush to invade Iraq at a private meeting in 2002 at the US president's ranch.
Mr Blair said he had been "open" about what had been discussed - that Saddam Hussein had to be dealt with and "the method of doing that is open".
He said he had told the US president: "We have to deal with his WMD and if that means regime change so be it."
The former prime minister is being questioned by the Iraq inquiry.
Earlier witnesses have suggested that Mr Blair told Mr Bush at their April 2002 meeting at the ranch in Crawford, Texas, that the UK would join the Americans in a war with Iraq.
But Mr Blair said: "What I was saying - I was not saying this privately incidentally, I was saying it in public - was 'we are going to be with you in confronting and dealing with this threat'.
"The one thing I was not doing was dissembling in that position. How we proceed in this is a matter that was open. The position was not a covert position, it was an open position."
Pressed on what he thought Mr Bush took from the meeting, he went further, saying: "I think what he took from that was exactly what he should have taken, which was if it came to military action because there was no way of dealing with this diplomatically, we would be with him."
Mr Blair also denied he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if he had thought Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as he appeared to suggest last year in a BBC interview.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Blair Defends Legacy At Iraq Inquiry
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