LONDON - Britain discussed plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves with some of the world's biggest oil companies five months before it joined the United States in invading the country, the Independent newspaper said on Tuesday.
Citing documents it said were obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by campaigner and author Greg Muttitt, the newspaper said at least five meetings were held between government officials and oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell in October and November 2002.
"Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in (Iraq) for the sake of their long-term future," Edward Chaplin, the Foreign Office's former Middle East director was quoted as saying after a meeting with oil groups in October 2002.
"We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq," he said, according to minutes of the meeting which could not be independently verified.
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