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Australian PM: US Intelligence Agencies Reluctant to Share Information on Iraq

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies had restricted his country's access to classified material on the war in Iraq, forcing him to repeatedly appeal to President Bush for access.

Mr. Howard says, prior to 2005, the U.S. Defense Department had restricted Australian military access to vital information on Iraq.

Mr. Bush signed an order in July 2004 granting Australia and Britain special access to intelligence for use in planning combat and counter-terrorism operations. But Mr. Howard said U.S. agencies initially resisted the order because of their reluctance to share information.

The Australian leader says the U.S. intelligence restrictions were lifted last year, after he again appealed to Mr. Bush to deliver on his commitments.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.