Brown Comes through on Iran Sanctions, Afghan Troop increase

There were questions surrounding Gordon Brown when he became Great Britain's Prime Minister. Taking office with echoes of "lap dog" following his predecessor Tony Blair, many wondered just how committed Brown would be to the "Special Relationship" between the US and Great Britain and whether he would initiate a more independent course in foreign affairs.

Brown may yet eschew supporting the US on many issues. But on increasing sanctions on Iran and sending additional troops to Afghanistan - two things the US devoutly wished Brown would accede to - the British Prime Minister has come through.

Steven Meyers and Allan Cowell of the
New York Times:

After talks with President Bush, Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised tougher measures in Iran and Afghanistan, saying that Britain would freeze the assets of Iran's biggest bank and increase its troop strength in Afghanistan.
Appearing with Mr. Bush at a news conference, he sought to speak directly to the Iranian people, saying that Tehran's refusal to resolve international concerns over its nuclear activities would only lead to further isolation.

"Our message today to the Iranian people is that you do not have to pursue the path of confrontation," he said during the news conference

"Today, Britain will urge Europe and - Europe will agree - to take further sanctions against Iran," Mr. Brown said.

Specifically, he said, the sanctions would be designed to freeze the assets of Iran's biggest bank, Bank Melli.

"We will take action today that will freeze the overseas assets of the biggest bank in Iran, the Melli bank, and secondly, action will start today for a new phase of sanctions on oil and gas," he said, without elaborating.

Brown has also promised to stick with Bush on Iraq - something of a surprise but perhaps a little dose of reality about the situation there.

Brown was seen as something of an "Americanophile" prior to his taking office so it may not be surprising that his affection for America would somewhat guide his foreign policy. But there are other areas of disagreement with the US - including some aspects of the pace of British withdrawal from Iraq - that will give Brown an opporuntity to demonstrate his independence from Washington.

At the moment though, his support is most welcome.