A top aide to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says his boss was determined to deal peacefully with the late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, until just before the 2003 Iraq war.
Blair aide Alastair Campbell spoke Tuesday in London at a public inquiry called to review British decision-making ahead of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Campbell said there was never a rush to war on the part of the Blair government, despite the former prime minister's close ties with then-U.S. President George W. Bush.
He also said Mr. Blair was satisfied with pre-war intelligence estimates showing Iraq in possession of weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons have been found.
Mr. Blair faces questioning from the five-member inquiry panel in coming weeks.
The former prime minister has said he stands behind the decision to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein regardless of whether there were weapons of mass destruction or not.
Relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq and anti-war protesters have long argued that the British government distorted intelligence, including unsubstantiated claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, to justify the war.
Campbell wrote in his 2007 book The Blair Years: The Alastair Campbell Diaries that the Blair Cabinet had serious doubts about going to war with Iraq on the eve of the parliamentary vote on joining the U.S.-led war.
Elsewhere Tuesday, an independent Dutch commission reported Tuesday that the Netherlands' participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was not justified by U.N. resolutions.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.