UK Politics

Iraq Inquiry: 'No US veto' over Blair-Bush notes

Sir John Chilcot
Image caption Publication of Sir John Chilcot's report has been hampered by delays

The US has no veto over the disclosure of communications between Tony Blair and George W Bush regarding war with Iraq, the UK Cabinet Office has said.

An inquiry into the conflict which began in 2009 has been delayed because key exchanges have yet to be released.

Sir John Chilcot, who is leading the inquiry, is in dispute with the government over the documents.

The Cabinet Office comments came after the Independent newspaper reported that Washington was behind the delay.

'Difficult issues'

The paper claims the US State Department and White House have "refused to sanction" the declassification of pre and post-war communications between the then president and prime minister.

But describing such exchanges as a "particularly privileged channel of communication", a Cabinet Office spokesman said: "Any suggestion that the US has a veto is wrong.

"The government is currently engaged in discussions with the Inquiry.

"All sides recognise that this raises difficult issues involving legal and international relations considerations."

A publication date for Sir John's final report - which is set to be about a million words long - was never set.

But it had been expected in 2012.

Earlier this month Sir John wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron saying the inquiry had asked to see 25 notes from Mr Blair to his American counterpart at the time and more than 130 records of conversations between the two or between Gordon Brown and Mr Bush.

Sir John said the progression of his inquiry was "dependent on the satisfactory completion of discussions" with the government over the disclosure of key material.

The Cabinet Office spokesman said: "As the exchange of letters between government and the inquiry shows, these issues are being worked through in good faith and with a view to reach a position as rapidly as possible."

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