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British Prime Minister Refutes Allegations Allies Lacked Post-War Plan for Iraq - 2004-09-18

British Prime Minister Tony Blair refuted allegations Saturday that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq did not plan adequately for the post-war phase. The British leader also says he is closely monitoring the situation of a Briton who has been kidnapped in Baghdad, along with two Americans.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Saturday that, according to what it said were secret British government documents, the British Foreign Office had strong concerns that Britain was not doing enough to plan for the post-war phase in Iraq.

The British newspaper says Prime Minister Blair was warned a year before the invasion of Iraq that a stable post-Saddam Iraqi government would be impossible, without keeping large numbers of troops there for many years.

The paper says it has seen a copy of a letter by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in which he reportedly said no one had a clear idea what would happen after Saddam was ousted.

At a news conference Saturday, the prime minister said the allies did have a plan.

"The idea that we did not have a plan for afterwards is simply not correct," said Tony Blair. "We did, and indeed we have unfolded that plan, but there are people in Iraq, outsiders as well as former regime elements, who are determined to stop us."

Meanwhile, Mr. Blair was asked what his government was doing about the kidnapping of British engineer Kenneth Bigley in Baghdad, who was abducted along with two American co-workers.

"We are monitoring the situation very closely," he said. "We are doing everything we can, but I do not want to say anything more about it at this stage."

In a video aired on the Arabic satellite TV station, al-Jazeera, militants threatened to kill the three hostages, if Iraqi women are not freed from two coalition-run prisons.

The British military says it is not holding any Iraqi female prisoners in custody.