Britain's PM-to-be Brown hints at steady foreign policy


AFP
Date: 05-13-07

by Phil Hazlewood

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's prime minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown spoke of his future foreign policy Sunday, indicating little divergence from the man he will be succeeding, Tony Blair.

Brown stressed a multilateral approach to diplomacy, and added that Blair's policy of acting as a bridge between the United States and Europe would remain, saying that Britain's "strong" relationships with both would continue.

"There will always be a strong and special relationship with America and that is because we share the same values, of liberty and opportunity and freedom for the individual," finance minister Brown said.

"Equally, there will be a strong relationship between any British government and the EU."

He was speaking at a Labour leadership election hustings organised by the left-wing Fabien Society, facing off against his likely challengers for the party leadership, Michael Meacher and John McDonnell.

The pair are unlikely to beat Brown to the post, and may not even be able to muster enough nominations between them to get on the ballot paper.

Brown said that he sensed that a "new multilateralism" was possible in the coming years, which he said was vital for issues such as climate change. He also said that a multilateral approach was being demonstrated over Iran's disputed nuclear programme and North Korea.

Asked about future Labour policy in the Middle East, Brown said that he supported the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

He said that the European Union and Israel were "ready to support" economic development to reduce unemployment and poverty in the Palestinian territories, adding that the example of Northern Ireland, where peace was matched by prosperity, could be a model for the Middle East and the wider world.

Responding to a question posed by Meacher about whether he would support the United States if it were to attack its foe Iran, Brown said it was not about committing to a position beforehand.

"Things are complex. They have to be dealt with in a sensible way. I want to have international cooperation and coordination."

On Iraq, he said it would be "wrong" to withdraw British troops immediately just as Iraqi forces were assuming control of security, particularly of the south of the country, where most British soldiers are based.

"Let's not jump to one simple conclusion when this is a situation that's changing, that's developing, that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government want us to be there at the moment."

Britain has about 7,100 troops stationed in Iraq, and Brown is planning to visit the country soon.

On the ongoing violence in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, which Brown described as "one of the urgent issues of the next few months," Brown said that he was in favour of a joint African Union-UN force there, as well as tough sanctions on Khartoum.



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