Britain to present new rules for Gurkhas

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Britain will tomorrow outline new rules likely to allow more Nepalese former Gurkha soldiers to settle in Britain.

The Government has promised to ease restrictions for former Gurkhas after a parliamentary defeat on the issue, Gordon Brown's first since taking over from Tony Blair in 2007.

"I believe it is possible for us to honour our commitments to the Gurkhas and to do so in a way that protects the public finances," the Prime Minister said today.

"We have a great deal of sympathy and support for those Gurkhas who wish to come into this country, many of them who served the country and our army with huge distinction over the years."

The government had argued that allowing all Gurkha veterans to resettle in Britain would cost 1.4 billion pounds ($2.07 billion) and strain the already stretched public finances.

Actress Joanna Lumley has spearheaded a campaign on behalf of the Gurkhas, with widespread public support, lobbying Brown and other lawmakers to change the rules.

Gurkhas have been fighting for Britain since 1815, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gurkhas who retired before 1997 can settle in Britain if they meet one of five criteria, including having 20 or more years' service or a gallantry medal.

Last month, parliament backed an opposition motion to give all Gurkha veterans equal rights to stay in Britain. The vote was not legally binding, but the government said it would present new proposals before the summer recess.