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    Former Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks during a news conference in London on July 6, 2016, following the outcome of the Iraq Inquiry report.

    Ex-French Envoy to Russia on UK’s Role in 2003 Iraq Invasion

    © AFP 2017/ Stefan Rousseau
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    In an interview with Radio Sputnik Claude Blanchemaison, former French ambassador to Russia, underscored the closeness of the two countries’ positions on the issue of Britain’s involvement in the war in Iraq.

    “During the winter of 2002 and 2003 French diplomats were in close contact with their Russian colleagues [on the US and British invasion of Iraq] and I was meeting regularly with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Ministers responsible for Middle Eastern affairs and for relations with the United Nations,” Claude Blanchemaison said.

    “In several joint communiques the Russian Foreign Ministry released after those meetings, we underscored our shared opposition to the use of force against Iraq. President Putin was meeting with then President Chirac and [German] Chancellor Schroeder and as permanent members of the UN Security Council France and Russia were fully aware of our responsibility and our shared opposition to the UN resolution on the use of force against Iraq,” he added.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair then claimed that the military operation in Iraq had made the world better and safer, but the global spread of terrorism, the emergence of Daesh and millions of refugees can hardly be viewed as a sign of a better and safer world.

    “We have always insisted that the operation in Iraq the way it was carried out, was a mistake and it indeed had many negative consequences,” Claude Blanchemaison noted.

    When asked whether just saying “I’m sorry” — an expression so often used by politicians — is enough, Claude Blanchemaison said that any political leader or government proceeds from his moral principles and political considerations.

    “I have read about [Tony Blair’s] apology about Britain’s role in the war in Iraq. This and the recently published report about that reflects the Britons’ changed attitude towards this issue. But I don’t think that we are going to see world leaders spending all their time apologizing for this of that, because we all make mistakes, don’t we?” Claude Blanchemaison said in conclusion.

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    negative consequences, 2003 invasion of Iraq, mistake, apology, Daesh, UN Security Council, Claude Blanchemaison, Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, France
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