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UK PM wants India to be a bigger player

Gordon Brown says Britain will back India’s entry into the OECD-led Task Force to combat terror, reports Amit Baruah. Read full interview

india Updated: Jan 22, 2008 12:51 IST
Amit Baruah

India, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown hoped on Monday, would join a proposed standby, rapid-response international team to provide both civilian and military support to help failing states get back on their own feet.

In an exclusive interview to the Hindustan Times, Brown said when dealing with a broken down state or a conflict zone, you have to usher in not just peace, but bring reconstruction and development to the people.

Supporting India’s case for the lifting of restrictions imposed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group on civilian nuclear commerce, Brown said Britain would support India’s entry into the OECD-led Financial Action Task Force to combat terrorism. “We support their application. It (India joining) will be an important step in dealing with terrorist finances.”

The Prime Minister hinted that the Western world, which had backed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to the hilt in the war against terrorism, would look at the country closely after the February 18 elections were over.

“…I think we have to wait and see how the Pakistani elections are conducted. Then I think the international community will make its views known,” Brown remarked before meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“We do also know that we need a level of cooperation against terrorist activities; we are trying to bolster that relationship so that the Al- Qaeda does not get a further foothold in Pakistan and we prevent the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan,” he stated.

“We’re always concerned about issues that relate to terrorism and security. Our vigilance in these issues will be as any country…” he responded to a question whether Britain was concerned about regime security and nuclear weapons in Pakistan.

Brown proposed that the World Bank be converted into a bank for environment and development, which could provide finances to developing countries to create more renewable energy, more cuts in carbon emissions that would also benefit the Indian economy and people.

On the movement of jobs from Europe and America to Asia, the Prime Minister felt that in the long-term these were to the benefit of all countries. “We’ve got to then decide where the comparitive advantages of different countries lie.”

Brown, who was Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer for a number of years, said the world economy was being restructured and the pace of change was faster than at any time for hundreds of years. “The scale of the change is bigger than what happened two hundred years ago at the time of the industrial revolution.”

“I think it’s the people’s century,” the Prime Minister said when asked whether he thought the 21st would be Asia’s century. “This is the century where the skills, talents, ingenuity and creativity of ordinary people would be the driving force of the economy…people themselves, not governments, not regimes, not continents will be the driving force of change,” he added.

Read the full interview