Blair failed to stand up to Bush, claims book

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London, Oct 29 (UNI) Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair failed to stand up to US President George Bush over the invasion of Iraq, a political biography of the Labour leader claimed.

''In the end Blair would always support the President (Bush).

I found this very surprising. I never really understood why Blair seemed to be in such harmony with Bush,'' the book -- Blair Unbound -- quoted former US Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying.

''I thought, well, the Brits haven't been attacked on 9/11.

How did he reach the point that he sees Saddam as such a threat? Jack (Straw) and I would get him all pumped up about an issue.

And he'd be ready to say, 'Look here, George'. But as soon as he saw the President he would lose all his steam,'' he added.

The book by political biographer Anthony Seldon claims that at one point former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw even flew to the US ''by Concorde'' to hold secret talks with his American ally.

In published excerpts from the book, Dr Seldon also disclosed that two of Mr Blair's most senior Downing Street advisers -- Sir David Manning and Baroness Sally Morgan -- had argued against the war, the Independent reported.

According to the book, Mr Blair resolved to write to Mr Bush in 2002 to spell out his fears that the momentum for war was growing too fast in America. But he ''faltered and pulled his punches'' and in effect told the president: ''You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I'll be with you.'' The book also claims Mr Straw was sidelined before the war and removed afterwards for not giving enough support to Mr Blair.

Dr Seldon writes that the former prime minister had ''private doubts'' about the strategy, but ''as ever, Blair refrained from expressing his frustration in public'' even towards the end of his days in Downing Street.

UNI

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