Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard defended his 2003 decision to send forces to join the US-led invasion of Iraq as he responded Thursday to the findings of Britain's inquiry into the war, news reports said.
Howard told reporters in Sydney that he respected Sir John Chilcot’s report on the Iraq War, which was released Wednesday, but that he did not agree with critics who said the war was based on a lie, the broadcaster ABC reported.
"There was no lie. There were errors in intelligence but there was no lie," Howard was quoted by ABC as saying.
Howard, a strong supporter of the US alliance, was prime minister from 1996 to 2007, and sent more than 500 special forces, navy ships and air force planes to join the "Coalition of the Willing."
The report found there was no evidence to support claims intelligence used to justify the war on Iraq had been doctored by Western governments, Howard said.
Australia’s intelligence chiefs had “accepted ownership of the dossier and agreed to its content," he said, according to the report.
Howard said he was sorry for those who suffered as a result of the conflict, but did not apologize for his decision to join the war.
"Of course I defend it. I don't retreat from it. I don't believe, based on the information available to me, that it was the wrong decision. I really don't," he said.