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British lawmakers to probe Iraq War

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British Lawmaker Panel to Probe Iraq War

1 hour, 56 minutes ago Add World - AP to My Yahoo!

LONDON - A British parliamentary committee announced Tuesday it would hold an inquiry into the government's decision to go to war with Iraq (news - web sites).

The existence of weapons of mass destruction was Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s crucial argument for joining the United States in military action against Iraq. Pressure on him has grown as occupying British and U.S. forces in Iraq have failed to locate chemical, biological or nuclear arms.

The House of Commons Foreign Relations Committee is likely to hold its inquiry in public. Its reports are usually published.

Blair's office has resisted the idea of a broad independent inquiry and suggested it would favor an inquiry by the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. But that committee reports to the prime minister, not to parliament, and some lawmakers had pressed for a more open inquiry.

Either option would fall short of the full independent inquiry some are seeking. But although the Foreign Affairs Committee is dominated by Blair's Labor Party, it has shown independence in past reports critical of the government.

The committee said it plans to take oral statements from witnesses in June and publish a report in July.

The call for an inquiry in Britain came as two U.S. Senate committees pushed for an investigation into whether U.S. intelligence accurately pointed to banned weapons in Iraq as claimed by the Bush administration in going to war.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said Sunday his Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee might look jointly into the situation.

More than 11 weeks have passed without conclusive evidence of an Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction.

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