Brown outlines plans for more multilateral British foreign policy

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Gordon Brown has outlined his plans to pursue a more independent foreign policy than Tony Blair which gives more weight to international bodies like the United Nations.

Speaking openly about the new direction in which he wants to take the country after becoming Prime Minister, Mr Brown emphasised the need for a "new world order" based on a multilateral approach. He called for a "new diplomacy" to accompany military power in the battle to defeat terrorism, spread prosperity and "win the battle of hearts and minds".

Although he did not criticise the Iraq war, his ideas appear to be at odds with the unilateral decision by the United States, backed by Britain, to invade the country without a UN resolution. They are in line with the broad international consensus for action in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks in America.

Interviewed on the last day of his visit to India, the Chancellor said international bodies like the UN need to be reformed as well as taking on a bigger role. "The way forward for Britain is to pursue our national interests, by building alliances, reforming the international institutions," he told the BBC.

Mr Brown said the world was becoming more interdependent, with issues like the environment and security requiring international co-operation. "We need to strengthen the alliances we have: a strong alliance with America, a strong alliance in Europe, a strong role in the Commonwealth. But we also need, and I think this is now very clear, to reshape the international institutions so that they can meet these challenges," he said.

The World Bank had to do more on the environment, he said, and the UN had to enhance its peacemaking role, while Nato had a bigger part to play in security and peacekeeping. "I think if you look at the shape of the international institutions, you will see they were built for the age of 1945. We are in a new age. Reshaping these institutions can give us an environmental improvement, they can give us a security improvement, and they can give us also greater prosperity," he said.

Mr Brown added: "I believe that there is a collective interest that the world can be persuaded of, in the United Nations playing a bigger role in security, Nato playing a bigger role out of theatre, and also the European Union as a collective institution playing a fuller role."

Mr Brown acknowledged that Britain might need to both threaten and use military power and said he was "very proud" of Britain's forces and their reputation around the globe.

However, he declined to promise not to take military action without UN approval. "Nobody's going to make that commitment," he said, adding that Britain now tried to work through the UN in Iraq.

Mr Brown rejected scathing criticism of the Bush administration by Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, who said this week that its "neo-con" mission had failed. "I don't accept that what America has tried to do has failed," he said.

In a separate interview with ITV News, Mr Brown was asked about his "grumpy" image after a CommunicateResearch survey for The Independent found six out of 10 Labour supporters and 70 per cent of his fellow Scots regard him as "grumpy". He blamed this on the "discipline" of talking about economic issues such as the balance of payments for the past decade.