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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 20:44 GMT
George Bush defends Iraq invasion
President Bush
Mr Bush said he still had confidence in the intelligence community
President George W Bush has defended his decision to invade Iraq despite the failure of his troops to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

"There is no doubt in my mind the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein," the president said.

It was Mr Bush's first public response to the resignation of the chief US weapons inspector, David Kay.

Mr Kay said Iraq probably had no WMD and "the intelligence that we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong".

The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says the resignation of the highly respected weapons inspector has put Mr Bush on the defensive.

The alleged existence of WMD had been the cornerstone of the US argument for invading Iraq, which attracted widespread international opposition.

If no weapons are ever found, blame could fall on the intelligence services, our correspondent says.

But for the moment, Mr Bush said, he still had "great confidence" in the intelligence community.

He argued that since the removal of Saddam Hussein the world was "safer and the people of Iraq are free".

"We know he was a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world," Mr Bush said, in his first public response to the growing chorus of voices suggesting that there were no banned weapons in Iraq before the war.

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