Ex-US minister withdraws Iraq comments

Former deputy US secretary of state Richard Armitage has withdrawn a statement in which he said that the US had ‘absolutely’ asked the Netherlands for military support for the invasion of Iraq in early 2003.

Speaking on NOS tv, Armitage said he did not remember asking for military support and that he was ‘terribly sorry’ for the problems his remarks, which were reported in a regional newspaper, had caused.
‘We were arrogant enough to think we could do it alone,’ Armitage said.
Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende has always denied that the US asked for military support.
Later, news agency GPD which carried out the original interview, released a recording of Armitage’s comments, in which he talks about the US wanting military backing.
On Wednesday MPs voted in favour of Balkenende’s plan to set up a special commission to investigate the decision-making process which led to the Netherlands giving political, but not military, support to the invasion.
And Balkenende said that if the commission does not answer all questions, opposition MPs could then call for a parliamentary inquiry.
Opposition MPs feel the commission does not go far enough and want a parliamentary inquiry which can hear witnesses under oath.

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