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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 April 2007, 03:45 GMT 04:45 UK
Canberra row over UK envoy remark
By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

The British High Commissioner in Canberra, Helen Liddell
Ms Liddell has taken the Canberra job in 2005
There has been controversy in Australia over comments by the British high commissioner that the Iraq conflict has never been part of the war on terror.

Helen Liddell, a former cabinet minister, also dismissed that term as a "tabloid slogan".

Australian opposition Labor MPs say her remarks are a major embarrassment to Prime Minister John Howard.

Mr Howard's cabinet has said Australia must remain in Iraq because it is the front line in the war on terrorism.

The comments by Helen Liddell, who was a cabinet minister at the time of the Iraq invasion, appear to distance Britain from the Howard government.

"We have never seen Iraq as part of the war on terrorism," she told the National Press Club in Canberra.

"Certainly at the moment we are engaged in a war on the streets in Iraq against terrorism but our raison d'etre for involvement in Iraq has not been about terrorism."

The Australian government says the envoy's words are at odds with those of the British prime minister, noting that Tony Blair has repeatedly made the case for defeating terrorists in Iraq.

"The British government believes Iraq is very much part of the war against terrorism," Mr Howard told a news conference on Thursday.

"There can be no doubt in the mind of the head of the British government that Iraq is part of the battleground against terrorism, and our view and the view of the British government is identical," he said.

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