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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Butler report: International reaction

Paul Welsh
BBC world affairs correspondent

Lord Butler's report may have been produced for the British Parliament, but it is being pored over and digested around the world.

In the run-up to the war with Iraq British Intelligence went further than their American counterparts, but it is widely felt that those British spies were criticised in this inquiry far less than the US agents were in a Senate report last week.

PM Tony Blair on the steps of 10 Downing Street on Thursday
Tony Blair's actions are being scrutinised across the world

In Washington, where they are still reeling from that Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, the president is studiously ignoring the Butler report in public.

Hopefuls for the Whitehouse are more forthcoming. John Edwards, the candidate for vice president says the British Prime Minister Tony Blair acted responsibly, unlike George Bush.

Among the other allies in the invasion of Iraq, Australia's prime minister is now looking to the British report for some comfort.

John Howard is under pressure from his opposition to accept that there are no weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq.

"I agree with Lord Butler that it would be a rash person to conclude that they didn't exist and will never be found," Mr Howard said.

Finally it has been proven in a clear manner that the United States and Britain lied, both to their public and to the entire world
Turkish newspaper 'Yeni Safak'
"My position remains that we had strong intelligence to justify our decision and nothing in the Butler report alters that position."

In France, where opposition to the war was strong, newspapers have given a lot of space to the findings of the inquiry.

'Le Figaro' said Mr Blair looked "visibly relieved" when he addressed the House of Commons after the report was published.

The newspaper believes the inquiry will not silence the prime minister's opponents.

'Bizarre creature'

"The question of political responsibility is not closed," it says. "Otherwise, how are we to explain the fact that in France (President) Jacques Chirac rejected the war, despite the fact that his own intelligence services supplied him with information similar to that available to Bush and Blair?"

The Italian newspaper 'Corriere della Sera' calls the Butler inquiry a "bizarre creature", because although there is criticism there is no blame.

"It is a report which is chock full of criticism for the secret services' performance and for the conduct of the Blair government... but it is a report that refuses to draw the political consequences."

In Turkey the reaction is blunter. "Finally it has been proven in a clear manner that the United States and Britain lied, both to their public and to the entire world" says the paper 'Yeni Safak'.

The London-based Al-Quds Al Arabi wants Tony Blair to resign, saying the report is a cover-up designed to protect him, that he cheated the British public.

The Iranians, too, see the affair as damaging to Mr Blair. 'Jomhuriye Eslami' says the evidence uncovered by Lord Butler makes it all the more shameful for anyone to blindly support America.





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