The US national commission which investigated alleged Iraq-Al-Qaeda links made a preliminary statement in a report before the final public session of the commission.

The statement contradicted US Vice-President Dick Cheney, who has spoken about Saddam Hussein’s ‘long-established ties’ with Al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration used Iraq’s alleged links with al-Qaeda as part of the justification gave for invading Iraq. Although the report said Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden had explored the possibility of co-operation with Iraq, the statement asserted Saddam Hussein’s regime did not respond.

‘There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda also occurred after Bin Laden had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship,’ the statement said. ‘We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda co-operated on attacks against the United States.’

The enquiry also found no evidence that Riyadh funded Al-Qaeda.

It cleared Princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of the Saudi envoy to the US, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, who had been alleged to have given the 11 September hijackers money. ‘The commission dispels two outrageous myths about Saudi Arabia,’ said a Saudi official.

The commission will publish a final report of its findings on 28 July.