A U.S. Defense Department internal probe has found there was no direct cooperation between the al-Qaida terrorist network and Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government.

A declassified Pentagon report says military officials reached the conclusion based on interviews with Saddam and two former aides, and documents seized by U.S. forces after Saddam was ousted in 2003.

The report by Pentagon acting inspector general Thomas Gimble backs earlier assertions made by the intelligence community before the U.S.-led invasion that Iraq and al-Qaida had no operational ties.

In a radio interview Thursday, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney repeated the Bush administration's view that al Qaida was present in Iraq before the start of the war.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.