Blair ignored Chirac's warning of Iraq 'disaster'

26th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Feb 25, 2007 (AFP) - A top aide to Tony Blair said the British prime minister ignored French President Jacques Chirac's warnings that invading Iraq would have "disastrous" consequences, The Observer newspaper reported Sunday.

LONDON, Feb 25, 2007 (AFP) - A top aide to Tony Blair said the British prime minister ignored French President Jacques Chirac's warnings that invading Iraq would have "disastrous" consequences, The Observer newspaper reported Sunday.

Sir Stephen Wall, formerly Blair's chief policy advisor, said Blair and his influential then-press chief Alastair Campbell deliberately misrepresented France's opposition to invading Iraq to justify going ahead with the operation.

The comments were made in "A Man With A Mission", the second instalment in the three-part BBC television documentary "Blair: The Inside Story", to be aired Tuesday.

Wall said Blair's actions meant there was no chance of a United Nations compromise to avert the US-led invasion, which took place in March 2003.

The advisor travelled with Blair to a crunch European Union summit in October 2002.

He said Chirac urged caution and even mentioned Blair's then-infant son, saying: "Leo will not thank you if you take Britain into war."

Chirac vehemently argued that while Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein "could be overthrown, the subsequent consequences would be disastrous," Wall said.

"Tony Blair never paid any attention to what Chirac said. He'd kind of come out rolling his eyes and say: 'Oh dear, dear old Jacques, he doesn't get it, does he?'"

Blair and Campbell decided to blame Chirac for the deadlock that followed a breakdown of diplomatic efforts to get a second UN Security Council resolution which could have put off an invasion, Wall said.

"I recall the moment because I happened to be in the corridor in Number 10 when he and Alastair Campbell were walking down the corridor and they decided effectively to play the anti-French card," he said.

"They'd been given an opportunity to do so because President Chirac had given a broadcast interview the previous day in which he said that, as of that moment, France would veto a resolution authorising war."

However, Wall insisted it was clear Chirac had not ruled out the possibility of future support from Paris for a compromise deal.
 
Tuesday's programme looks at Blair's wars and shows how the British premier developed his doctrine of the moral case for intervening by force against perceived evil across the world, the BBC said.
 
Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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