The results of Britain's inquiry into the 2003 Iraq War came a step closer to publication today after a deal was reached between the then heads of statae, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush, on how to use secret notes and phone call records.
The investigation, called the Chilcot Inquiry after its head Sir John Chilicot, was set up by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to learn lessons from the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. It started its work in 2009.
The publication of 25 ''notes'' and more than 130 records of conversations has been a major stumbling block for the inquiry into the 2003 invasion, and a letter addressed to cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood has now acknowledged the ''difficult issues of long-standing principle'' this raised.
The inquiry had hoped to deliver its verdict by the end of 2011 or in early 2012. However, five years after it was launched it has yet to report because of problems related to the release of confidential documents.
Today, the inquiry panel announced that a deal had been reached between it and the British government on the disclosure of communications between Blair and Bush.
The inquiry's interest in their communications focuses on how open-ended Blair's support for Bush and the war was.
Blair, who has repeatedly denied blocking the release of the communications, has said he stands by his actions.
"Agreement has been reached on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from Cabinet-level discussions and communications between the UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States," the inquiry said in a statement.
"Detailed consideration of material requested by the Inquiry from communications between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States has now begun. It is not yet clear how long that will take."
The material the inquiry has requested covers "gists and quotes" from 25 notes from Blair to Bush and more than 130 records of conversations. The inquiry is not seeking to use material that reflects Bush's views.
It is a widespread opinion around the world that Blair deliberately misled the British public over the reasons he gave for war, which are now well known to have been specious.