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Britain's Brown: Al Qaeda fight a 'generation-long battle'

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: PM says he's disappointed with pace of Iraqi reconstruction, reconciliation
  • U.S., British leaders also discuss Afghanistan, Darfur, poverty, climate change
  • White House concerned Gordon Brown could change British involvement in Iraq
  • Democrat says she hopes Brown can convince Bush to pull back troops
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CAMP DAVID, Maryland (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that the United States and Britain are engaged in a "generation-long battle" against al Qaeda-inspired terrorism and that Britain "absolutely" shares President Bush's philosophy on the war on terror.


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, left, accompanies President Bush to a news conference Monday.

"This is a battle for which we can give no quarter. It's a battle that's got to be fought in military, diplomatic, intelligence, security, policing and ideological terms," Brown said during a news conference. "There should be no safe haven and no hiding place for those that practice terrorist violence or preach terrorist extremism."

But on his maiden voyage to the White House, Brown kept his comments short regarding Iraq, focusing primarily on moving from combat to "overwatch" missions in three of the four provinces for which Britain has responsibility.

As expected, Brown emphasized that the U.S.-British alliance remains strong, but he also said he was disappointed with some aspects of the effort in Iraq -- namely difficulties "getting political reconciliation within Iraq itself, moving forward the reconstruction and the time it has taken to do so."

He said, however, he was pleased to see "Iraq now building up its own security forces," which he estimated number about 300,000.

Though he avoided discussing his administration's purportedly waning support for Bush's Iraq policy, he did express at least some solidarity with the United States. Video Watch Brown speak of "duties to discharge" in Iraq »

"Our aim, as is the aim of the United States government, is threefold: security for the Iraqi people, political reconciliation and that the Iraqis have a stake in the future," Brown said.

The British and U.S. leaders met Sunday and Monday to discuss a host of topics in addition to Iraq. Included were climate change, HIV and malaria, global poverty, international trade, the war on terror, the Middle East peace process and Afghanistan, according to Brown and Bush.

The leaders also discussed a way to end the genocide in Darfur, a situation Brown called "the greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today."

Brown, who took the British helm last month after his predecessor Tony Blair -- a staunch proponent of Bush's Iraq policy -- stepped down, has said that the United States remains Britain's top ally.

"The American relationship for Britain is our strongest bilateral relationship and I am determined to do everything in my power to make sure that it is strong and effective in the work that it does," he said in a news conference before leaving for the United States.

However, Brown also has expressed a desire to distance himself from the White House policy on Iraq that disintegrated Blair's popularity, and he has made moves in his Cabinet suggesting that he is considering alternative directions for the war-ravaged nation.

Brown appointed as foreign affairs minister a former U.N. official, Mark Malloch Brown, a critic of the United States who has warned that the United States and Britain will no longer be "joined at the hip" on foreign policy matters. Also, Gordon Brown gave the international development minister post to Douglas Alexander, who recently called for more multilateralism during a visit to the United States.

Though Brown wrote Monday in an op-ed piece for The Washington Post that he came to the United States to affirm the two countries' "historic partnership," some in the White House are concerned that the new prime minister could change the course of Britain's involvement in Iraq.

When Brown took power last month, Britain was amid a steady troop withdrawal from Iraq. There have been reports that Brown could hasten the withdrawal, but the British prime minister has said he plans to keep promises made to the United Nations and Iraq.

Some in the United States are hoping that Brown can convince Bush to start pulling back U.S. troops.

"Frankly, I think our combat mission in Iraq should be ending. So if Gordon Brown can persuade George Bush to change our role in Iraq, that would be, I think, a great assist from the British government," Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, said Sunday.

Though his commitment to standing alongside the United States on Iraq policy may be in question, Brown wrote in the Monday op-ed piece that his country's commitment to fighting terrorism is not.

"It is our shared task to expose terrorism for what it is -- not a cause but a crime. A crime against humanity," Brown wrote in The Post.

Brown also wrote that his commitment to combating the genocide in Darfur is unwavering.


"Our shared outrage at injustice means we cannot stand by and watch the humanitarian crisis in Darfur without taking action to speed up the deployment of U.N.-African Union troops, call for an immediate cease-fire and, following America's lead, impose sanctions if necessary," Brown wrote.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Brown expanded on his remarks, saying, "I've agreed with the president that we step up our pressure to end the violence that has displaced 2 million people, made 4 million hungry and reliant on food aid, and murdered 200,000 people." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Gordon BrownGeorge W. BushDarfurIraq War

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