LONDON - The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Friday expressed his regrets over the Iraq war and staunchly defended the American-British invasion, claiming it was the right decision for the right reasons. With an election only weeks away, Brown struck a markedly different tone from Blair at the Chilcot Inquiry and instead stressed how very sad he was at the huge loss of life among Iraqi civilians and British servicemen and women. He referred repeatedly to the lessons learned from the 2003 conflict, including the need to end his predecessors sofa government decision-making and the need for proper post-war planning in any future invasions. During his six-hour grilling, Brown also rejected criticism that as Chancellor he had starved troops of vital equipment and funds. Stressing that finance was no barrier to the armed forces, he revealed that he first discussed funding military action in June 2002, nine months before the war. In another move calculated to distance himself from Blair, Brown walked through the front door of the inquiry past a gaggle of protesters. Blair was smuggled into the back entrance of the QEII conference centre when he gave evidence in January. Crucially, Brown said that while he regretted the failures by the Bush team, I cant take personal responsibility for everything that went wrong. In a further dig at the US, Brown revealed that he had written a paper for the Americans just before the war on the need for international partners in the work of reconstruction and financing. He told the Bush administration these things have to be planned for. During the hearing, which committee chairman Sir John Chilcotheld to give him a chance to set the record straight before the election, the Prime Minister began with a tribute to the armed forces who had made the ultimate sacrifice in fighting the Iraqi dictator and the subsequent insurgency. Throughout his evidence, Brown pointed out that it was Blair and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and Foreign Secretary Jazck Straw who were in the lead on the run-up to the war. He was frustrated that the problems of the war-torn country were not dealt with more quickly after the invasion. I wish it had been possible to follow it through much more quickly, he said. Brown was unclear about how much he knew of Blairs private pledges to back American Military action if it came to war. In one tense exchange, Sir Roderic Lyne repeatedly challenged Brown to say if he had been aware of the promise made by Blair in 2002 to President Bush in Texas and of the contents of private letters to the US leader. Brown said: I believed right up to the last moment that we, Britain, were trying to get a diplomatic solution. That did not satisfy Sir Roderic who said he was trying to understand if the Cabinet was aware of Blairs promises. I think it was obvious to me what the stakes were, said Brown, emphasising that the diplomatic route was the first choice. We knew the options available to us included going to war, he said.