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Brown announces new British Cabinet

June 29, 2007|From Reuters

LONDON — Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday named rising star David Miliband as Britain's foreign minister, the youngest in 30 years, in a Cabinet shake-up designed to make a break with the Tony Blair years.

Brown, who is mindful of the Iraq war's unpopularity, has promised to bring change to win voters after 10 years of Labor Party rule.

Miliband, 41, as a minister under Blair, voted to support the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but was widely reported to have been skeptical about it.

Brown gave a junior post to Mark Malloch Brown, a former deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, who has criticized Britain and the United States over the Iraq war. He was named minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations.

On Brown's first full day in office, there was a stark reminder of the conflict in Iraq. Three British troops were killed there in a bombing, bringing Britain's toll to 156 since the war began.

Analysts said the appointments of Miliband and Malloch Brown signaled Brown's desire for a subtle shift in foreign policy after Blair's close ties to Washington, unpopular among many Britons.

"That has been part of the agenda: to have a constructive, friendly relationship with the United States but to be critical as far as necessary," said Wyn Grant, a political scientist at Warwick University.

Blair stepped down as prime minister Wednesday, making way for Brown to try to boost Labor's prospects in the next general election, due by May 2010.

Brown also named ally Alistair Darling as finance minister and appointed Jacqui Smith as Britain's first female home secretary, or interior minister. She will face the challenge of preventing terrorist attacks.

Brown named right-hand man Ed Balls, 40, as minister for children, schools and families. Jack Straw, 60, was chosen as justice secretary.

Brown's most pressing foreign policy challenge is how to rebuild public trust shattered by Blair's approach to the war.

"The opportunities and challenges of the modern world require, in my view, a diplomacy that is patient as well as purposeful, which listens as well as leads," Miliband said.

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