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Blair Says He's Proud of Britain's Role in Iraq - 2003-07-14


Despite a growing chorus of criticism in Britain over why Tony Blair went to war in Iraq, the prime minister on Monday said he is proud of his role in overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

The prime minister made his strong comments during a news conference wrapping up a three-day international conference of center-left leaders in London. Despite his critics, Mr. Blair was in an uncompromising mood.

"We stand entirely by the intelligence that we gave and shared with the public," he said. "And, let me just say this to you: Nobody was in any doubt at all, or is in any doubt about the security threat that Saddam posed."

Mr. Blair cited U.N. estimates that up to 300,000 may have died under Saddam's rule.

"We should be proud that Saddam is gone - glad that he is gone," he said. "And I have no doubt at all in the future. Whatever the differences have been in the past, we can reconstruct Iraq as a stable and prosperous country and the world will be a more secure place as a result and we should be proud as a country of what we have done."

But the main reason given for Britain going to war was because of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Thus far, none have been found.

Two parliamentary inquiries are looking at the intelligence evidence Mr. Blair used to come to the conclusion that war was the best option. There are growing calls here for an independent judicial inquiry. But British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw rejects that, saying such a probe would take too long.

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