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Former British PM Testifies Before Iraq Inquiry

Protesters demonstrate against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair outside the venue where the Iraq inquiry is being held, in central London, 21 Jan 2011

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he pledged his country's support for the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq despite being told by his government's top lawyer that attacking Iraq would be illegal.

Mr. Blair told the London inquiry into the Iraq war on Friday that he believed the legal advise was provisional. He said the Iraq war was part of larger fight against terrorism and not an isolated mission.

Mr. Blair said he gave then U.S. President George W. Bush a strong commitment that Britain would do what it took to disarm former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

During his first appearance at the inquiry last year, Mr. Blair said he had no regrets about sending British troops to fight in Iraq.

The commission is expected to ask Mr. Blair about secret letters between him and former U.S. President George W. Bush from the time leading up to the Iraq war.

Mr. Blair's successor, David Cameron, has appealed to the public to pressure Mr. Blair to releasing the secret documents leading up to the invasion.

Mr. Cameron made the plea this week, after Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell refused to declassify the letters, saying doing so is not in the public's best interest.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.