Sunday, April 27, 2003
Putting the puzzle together - 27th April 2003, 17.42

It will be many years before a consensus emerges about the frantic diplomatic efforts of Blair in February and early March before the Iraqi war. However, it is now clear that the prime minister was taking soundings from Bill Clinton on the role of the United Nations and, one would suspect, the possibilities and limits of such a policy with the Bush administration. Clinton appears to have supported an extension of the inspections after a second resolution allowing military action, and Blair had been on the verge of obtaining the Chilean vote in th UNSC. This was scuppered by the television interview with Jacques Chirac where he promised to wield his veto without any room for compromise.

British efforts to secure a deal were scuppered when the French president, Jacques Chirac, gave a television interview saying he would veto a resolution authorising war whatever the circumstances. Mr Blair followed up the interview with a private call to Mr Chirac, in which the French president said he would not tolerate any resolution that contained an ultimatum to Saddam. Commenting on Mr Chirac's television performance, the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, told the Guardian: "He blew it. If he had said 'let's look at it again in two months time', we would have been in much greater difficulty."

Hence, a more detailed explanation for Blair's anger.


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