London, Nov 27 (ANI): To declare war on Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein regime, former British Prime Minster Tony Blair and ex-US President George W Bush might have secretly "signed in blood" a deal to overthrow Saddam a year before going to the war, according to a former senior diplomat.
Britain's Ambassador to Washington in the run-up to the Iraq war, Sir Christopher Meyer, said an agreement to aim for "regime change" may have been reached during a private meeting at the President's Crawford ranch in April 2002.
He also said that, in his view, Baroness Thatcher would have had a clearer grip on Britain's policy towards Iraq, The Times reports.
Sir Christopher said the decision to overthrow Saddam had been taken in the absence of advisers by Blair and Bush during a meeting at the Texas ranch. Afterwards, Blair referred to "regime change" in Iraq for the first time
"To this day I am not entirely clear what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood at the Crawford ranch. They weren't there to talk about containment or strengthening sanctions," he said.
Giving evidence on the third day of the Chilcot inquiry into the war, he criticised Blair's failure to defend Britain's national interest and to insist on much tougher conditions for his support for the US-led invasion in March 2003, The Times reports.
Sir Christopher said that Mr Blair would have been more influential if he had attached more conditions to British support.
Once the US miliary had started planning its strategy for an invasion in the spring of 2003, it was impossible to delay, even though the diplomatic work for a possible peaceful solution had not finished, he told the inquiry.
The inquiry will continue today with evidence from Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's Ambassador to the UN at the time of the invasion, The Times reports. (ANI)