Blair denies talks with top Iraqi officials

British PM Tony Blair said on Friday that he did not believe there were negotiations under way between Iraq's top officials and the United States and Britain.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2003 11:20 IST
Reuters
Reuters
PTI

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Friday that he did not believe there were negotiations under way between Iraq's top officials and the United States and Britain.

"I don't think there's any negotiation going on with the top people in Saddam's regime at all. And indeed we still, even as we speak, cannot be entirely sure what has happened to Saddam himself," Blair said in an interview on ABC's 20/20 news programme, referring to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In the six-minute interview interspersed with news footage of the prime minister with US President George W. Bush or in the British Parliament, Blair was asked about his discussions with Bush in the days leading up to the war.

Referring to a UN resolution demanding that Iraq disarm, Blair said Saddam might have stayed in power and avoided war if he had agreed to cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.

"I know from the discussions I had with him (Bush) at that point, had Saddam, detestable though he is, come forward and said, 'Right, that's it - I'm giving up the programme, I will cooperate fully and unconditionally, immediately with weapons inspectors,' there wouldn't have been a conflict," he said.

"He would have stayed, even though it is a detestable regime, because we were operating within the constraints the United Nations had laid down," Blair said.

First Published: Mar 29, 2003 09:50 IST