Blair exaggerated Iran`s role in Iraq: Ex-UK envoy

Sir Richard says Blair wrongly assumed Iran would be hostile to the Iraq war.

London: Britain`s former ambassador to Iran, Sir Richard Dalton, has accused former prime minister Tony Blair of making "a series of very bad decisions" about the legality of invading Iraq in 2003.

Sir Richard, who was in the job between 2003 and 2006, said Blair assumed Iran would be hostile to the war, but had misread the situation.

While Tehran did not want to give British and US forces an easy ride it ultimately wanted the coalition`s mission there to succeed, he told Sir John Chilcot`s panel.

"They were seeking to hurt the coalition without preventing the takeover of Iraq by an Iraqi regime that would be successful," Sky News quoted him, as saying.

Ambassador Dalton’s evidence appears to contradict what Blair told the inquiry in January.

"What nobody foresaw was that Iran would actually end up supporting al Qaeda," Blair had said, adding that Tehran feared having a functioning Shi’ite-led democracy on its doorstep.

Dalton believes Blair "very much exaggerated this factor".

The former ambassador also said that former US president George W Bush made a "monstrous error" by naming Iran as part of an "axis of evil" in an infamous speech in 2002.

This, and his refusal to listen to Iran`s legitimate concerns, led to a deterioration of relations between Iran and the coalition countries, he added.

Sir Geoffrey Adams, who was Britain’s ambassador in Iran from 2006 to 2009, told the inquiry that senior Iranians thought a prosperous and stable Iraq would be a good thing for the region.

However, he said he received some "pretty clear threats" that Iran`s allies inside Iraq would be able to cause difficulties for the coalition forces.


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