Blair gives evidence in US Iraq inquiry

Prime Minister Tony Blair has given evidence to a US inquiry reviewing policy in Iraq.

Mr Blair gave evidence to the Iraq Study Group via video-link. The session was private, but it has been speculated that Mr Blair would reiterate remarks he made for a "whole" Middle East strategy, during a world affairs speech at the Guildhall in London on Monday night.

Downing Street has not given any indication of what Mr Blair said during the conference, but only said that he "shared his ideas" for the future of Iraq and the Middle East.

During last night's speech to the Lord Mayor's Banquet, Mr Blair said that it should be made clear to Syria and Iran on what basis they can help the peaceful development of the Middle East rather than hinder it - and the consequences of not doing so.

He urged Iran to assist in the Middle East peace process, stop supporting terrorism in Iraq and Lebanon and abide by their international obligations.

The ISG was created in March 2006 to conduct a "forward-looking, bipartisan assessment of the situation in Iraq, its impact on the surrounding region, and consequences for US interests". They are working on a report, due out by the end of the year.

Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague called on the Prime Minister to give a frank assessment of the situation in Iraq when he addresses MPs after the state opening of the new session of Parliament.

Mr Hague said: "Greater international cooperation must include countries such as Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.

"And efforts to engage Iran must not come at the price of making it easier for them to continue with their nuclear programme."

On Monday, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: It is galling that the Prime Minister will outline his ideas regarding a strategy to the Baker Commission, when the government has refused Parliament the same opportunity.

"We need a fresh strategy based on British properties, not one that relies on the outcome of an American inquiry."


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