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The 'gist' of conversations between Tony Blair and George Bush ahead of the war on Iraq will be published

By The Citizen  |  Posted: May 30, 2014

George Bush and Tony Blair met to discuss Iraq at the White House in 2003

Comments (5)

THE ‘gist’ of the conversations between Tony Blair and George Bush ahead of the Iraq war will be published, it has been announced.

But transcripts and full notes of conversations will remain secret, at the request of the Government, the UK’s Chilcot Inquiry says.

The Inquiry and Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has paved the way for the report to be published, which has been delayed due to wrangling over what should be included.

The inquiry has been given access to records of talks between the two leaders in the run-up to war but is being prevented by the UK Government from publishing them in its final report, even after offering to leave out sensitive details.

Concern was raised by the Government that publishing the full documents and transcripts could prejudice future relations between the two countries.

The Inquiry has instead been granted permission to “disclose quotes or gists of the content” to help explain its conclusions, Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot explained in a letter to Sir Jeremy.

Documents include 25 notes from Mr Blair to Mr Bush and more than 130 records of conversations between the former Prime Minister and US President.

The report is expected to be published later this year.

Sir John said in a letter: “Considerations will be based on the principle that use of this material should not reflect President Bush’s views. We have also agreed that the use of direct quotation from the documents should be the minimum necessary to enable the Inquiry to articulate its conclusions.”

The Inquiry, which is examining the UK’s part in military action against Saddam Hussein, began in 2009 and its last public hearings took place in 2011. It has cost more than £7million so far.

Although the Inquiry team, led by Sir John, has never set a target date or deadline for publication, it is believed the timetable has slipped on occasions.

Before publication can happen, letters must be sent out to individuals facing criticism in the report, under what is known as the "Maxwellisation" process, to give them an opportunity to respond.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq by British and US forces, on the pretext that it had “weapons of mass destruction”, has been the subject of several inquiries in the UK, including the Butler report into intelligence failings.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The Government is pleased that agreement on a way forward on both cabinet papers and UK-US exchanges has now been reached with the inquiry.

“This allows for the declassification and publication of the material the inquiry believes it needs to explain its conclusions.

“Resolving this issue has taken longer than originally hoped but these are sensitive issues.

“The UK-US head of Government channel is very important and must be handled sensitively.

“The Government and the Inquiry are working to ensure the report is published as soon as possible, and the Government is doing everything it can to facilitate that.”

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  • SELINA30  |  May 30 2014, 9:15PM

    JimKerr, deluded? This from someone who thinks Thatcher, Major and Cameron have been better PMs that Tony Blair?

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  • IsitJimKerr  |  May 30 2014, 8:19PM

    Selina....you are seriously deluded. Blair is recognised as the worst PM we have had. His greasy prints are all over everything. He was complicit in going to war with no evidence, just kissing Bush's @r*£.

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  • SELINA30  |  May 30 2014, 8:07PM

    Sounds like a witch hunt. I hope the inquiry has looked into what could have been the consequences of non intervention bearing in mind what has happened in Syria.

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  • bettysenior  |  May 30 2014, 4:12PM

    Not really and where the most sensitive parts of the Bush-Blair communications are being kept a secret according to main-stream media. Indeed Chilcot will just end up as another whitewash by our politicians, when for their own reasons, vital commutative information is deemed not fit for the people to know about. What is the point of democracy when our leaders lead us to war and then will not release their communications so that we can make up our own minds 100% whether the decision to go to war was right or wrong. The only reason why people deny release of information as we know, is because things are not right and where if they were, they would be released. Just another cover-up and political corruption in the West is on a level equivalent to any dictatorial banana republic or despot African state. Is it no wonder that people have lost all trust in our western leaders and politicians as they are just as bad as the people that they attack constantly such as Putin et al. No difference in reality and they are only looking in the mirror at just the same political corruption that they supposingly despise. Strange how the political mind works and where this cover-up show conclusively their total loathing of those who put them into power - the voting people. Whitehall are no better also as they too have secrets that they have stopped from being released and their complicity in the Iraq War - corrupt complicity just like it was before the Roman Empire collapsed. Indeed it is the 'Cabinet Office' who are being made the scapegoat here, as media are citing they are the ones who stopped the sensitive issues being released. I hope that the British public keep these cover-ups in mind come 2015. Democracy died a death when 'Partyocracy' and 'Corporatocracy' Corrupted the System and became the New way to Control People and run a Nation http://tinyurl.com/p5gmezu Vast Corporate & Political Power in the West have Impoverished the People of the USA and the EU over the past 30-years – and unfortunately it will get far worse as things will not change for the better http://tinyurl.com/nmw4vok The People do 'NOT' know the TRUTH of what is actually going on and the 'Reality' of our so-called Democracy which is in 'Reality' the democracy of Big Business & Government hand in glove http://tinyurl.com/natpqgr The 'Establishment' Makes Amends but where the 'Establishment' does not change its spots when it comes to its own http://tinyurl.com/qjaqygq

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  • SandraPee  |  May 30 2014, 3:55PM

    Sounds a bit of a whitewash to me . For the time it's taken and what it's cost to just be told the ''gist'' of what was said is extremely poor , so we still won't know !

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