Iraq inquiry: Minister says Britain wanted diplomatic solution

The first ex-cabinet minister to give proof to the Iraq war inquiry insisted that Britain had always wanted a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Updated: Jan 19, 2010, 21:14 PM IST

London: The first former cabinet minister to give evidence to the Iraq war inquiry insisted today that Britain had always wanted a diplomatic solution to the crisis
before the 2003 invasion.

Former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon kicked off testimony
from a series of cabinet ministers ahead of the eagerly
awaited appearance of former Prime Minister Tony Blair before
the panel on January 29.

Hoon said Britain had always hoped diplomatic efforts to
disarm Iraq through the United Nations would bear fruit and he
doubted that Blair had ever given the United States
"unconditional" support for military action.

Blair`s influential spokesman at the time of the war,
Alastair Campbell, told the inquiry last week that Blair had
sent secret notes to then US President George W Bush in the
months preceding the March 2003 invasion.

Campbell said that while Blair was pressing Bush to seek
a diplomatic solution, he indicated in his notes he would
support military action if the UN route failed.

Hoon was asked whether he, as defence minister, would not
have expected to have been consulted if Blair was writing
notes committing Britain to military action.

"I would have been and that is why I do not believe he
was ever unconditionally committing us to anything," Hoon

"I think that right up until the vote in the House of
Commons our attitude towards the use of force was always