UK, US talked of toppling Saddam in 2001

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London, Dec.11 (ANI): Britain and the US were considering measures to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime in 2001, two years before the second Gulf War, the head of MI6 has said.

Sir John Sawers, who acted as Tony Blair's private secretary for foreign affairs in the run-up to the Iraq invasion in March 2003, said that discussions about "political" measures that could be taken against Saddam were taking place as early as 2001.

According to The Independent, Sawyers also said that the US ignored warnings over the removal of tens of thousands of members of Saddam's Baath party from their administrative posts.

Sir John told the Iraq inquiry that there was no talk of military action in 2001, but that the country was one of several in which the British Government would have liked to have seen a regime change.

He said that the preferred tactics were similar to those used to oust the former Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic.

Officials in Whitehall considered plans including the bolstering of a number of opposition groups within Iraq. There was even talk of having Saddam indicted as a war criminal as a result of his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Discussions took place as early as January 2001 with Dick Cheney, the former US Vice President, and National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice, as President Bush prepared to enter the White House.

"We talked about whether there was a way Saddam Hussein could be indicted for war crimes, whether there was a vision that could be created for the Iraqi people of what life would be like after Saddam Hussein," Sawyers said.

"There was no discussion of military invasion or anything like that," he added. (ANI)

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