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Iraq Transition

Iraq situation is 'dire,' says Straw

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The current situation in Iraq is "dire" according to former British foreign secretary Jack Straw.

Straw -- now the leader of Britain's House of Commons -- blamed "mistakes" made by the U.S. administration in the aftermath of the invasion for the current problems.

"The current situation is dire," he said during an appearance on BBC1's Question Time.

"I think many mistakes were made after the military action -- there is no question about it -- by the United States administration.

"Why? Because they failed to follow the lead of Secretary (of State, Colin) Powell.

"The State Department had put in a huge amount of effort to ensure there was a proper civilian administration."

Although ministers and officials, both in London and Washington, have accepted that mistakes were made, Straw's acknowledgement of the current difficulties was unusually frank.

His comments carry particular significance as he was the member of the government, after Tony Blair, most closely associated with the decision to go to war.

Straw was appointed foreign secretary in 2001, and was demoted earlier this year in a Cabinet shuffle.

Straw's comments came after Blair defended Britain's relationship with the U.S., including over the war in Iraq, at the governing Labour Party's annual conference Tuesday.

Blair warned against backing down in the face of mounting casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, both on the frontline of the US-led "war on terrorism."

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Straw was closely associated with the decision to go to war in Iraq.

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