Gordon Brown has arrived in India for a two-day visit, pledging to forge stronger trade links and cooperate against terrorism. But the fate of Northern Rockcontinues to dominate his tour. The prime minister denied he's already struck adeal with Sir Richard Branson. Our political editor Gary Gibbon reports fromDelhi.
Well,Gordon Brown's here in India to talk about aid, trade and counter-terrorism. He attended a women's empowerment event when he arrived here in Delhi. And a shortwhile after that, he had this to say about how he wanted more internationalcooperation on counter-terrorism.
What I would like to see is greater contact between our two countries in winning the battle of hearts and minds, isolating extremist ideologues who are trying to poison young people and the views that they have.
Tomorrow Gordon Brown's gonna be talking about what he calls global governance, changesto institutions like <the> United Nations. He wants India to have a seaton the Security Council. But he wants a lot else as well. He's talking about asort of force, a bit like the Blue Berets, the military forces that the UnitedNations currently deployed to troubled countries. He wants a backup as it were a blue-suit force which could include teachers, judges, doctors, people who can come in when a country is in diredifficulty. But there is another issue that is dogging him around here and itis in a way personified by the ever-present, Sir Richard Branson, boss ofVirgin. He's been following the prime minister on his tour and insisting atevery turn that there are no secret negotiations going on between the two ofthem when it comes to the sale of Northern Rock. This is what the primeminister himself had to say about that today.
"I can reassure people entirely that any negotiations about Northern Rock will betaking place in London. If a number of commercial companies are expressinginterest in the future of Northern Rock, then it is right that the governmentexplore all options available to us."
But as I said the prime minister is gonna be talking about the United Nations andother matters tomorrow when he's here in Delhi, but his heart and mind aregonna be very much back in London where the Chancellor will be making a veryimportant statement about Northern Rock. The prime minister wants people tothink that he's no longer on the back foot on Northern Rock, he's taken a gripof the situation and that he is not bailing out whoever buys Northern Rock.Will it look like that? Will it sound like that? Will people think that thegovernment is actually making a sweetener for Richard Branson or whoever buysNorthern Rock? That will be the key moment tomorrow. Gordon Brown will bewatching from a distance here in Delhi.