» Thursday, December 18, 2008


Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with the opposition party that now was the time for an inquiry into the Iraq war, the PMS said that we did not think that it was right to make any announcements on the subject whilst the Armed Forces were still operational in Iraq.

Asked why it was okay to make an announcement on when troops would return but not on whether or not there would be an inquiry, the PMS said that they were two totally different subjects. The purpose of the announcement on when the troops would finish their tasks in Iraq had been necessary because we were in Iraq agreeing the legal framework with the Iraqi Government, which would allow those troops to complete their mission beyond the expiry (at the end of the year) of the UN Security Council Resolution 1790. However, that did not change the position on the announcement of any inquiry.

Asked repeatedly if that meant that there wouldn t be an announcement regarding an inquiry until after 31 May 2009, the PMS said that the completion of the 14th Division s training mission was dated as 31 May but as a further role we anticipated UK Armed Forces helping the Iraqi Navy. It was not for the PMS to define how long that training might take, but the legal framework that we agreed with the Iraqi Government for the completion of the training mission of the 14th Division was the end of May.

Put repeatedly that the PMS had referred to a potential inquiry and that yesterday Harriet Harman had said that there would be an inquiry, the PMS said that the two positions were entirely consistent. We recognised that there was considerable interest in learning lessons from our involvement in Iraq and we would look at the issue of an inquiry when the time was right. There were a whole range of issues around what form an inquiry could take, and we were not going to make an announcement on that whilst we still had troops engaged in operations in Iraq.

Asked repeatedly if training was seen as engagement, the PMS said that he was not going to get into exactly what the threshold was for the number of troops involved in operations and what impact that would have on any potential decision to launch an inquiry.

Asked if that meant that any potential inquiry had been delayed indefinitely, the PMS said that he was not going to speculate on timings.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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