- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2007

LONDON - Britain’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown, chose his senior circle of ministers today, picking David Miliband as foreign secretary. The youngest foreign secretary in decades, he is a rising star who voiced doubts over the Iraq war.

Mr. Miliband, a 41-year-old environment chief, was confirmed as foreign secretary, according to a British government official.

Mr. Brown, who became prime minister yesterday after waiting a decade, planned a host of changes from predecessor Tony Blair’s final team, bringing a crop of young legislators into his government.

Mr. Miliband was pressed by some Blair loyalists to run against Mr. Brown to succeed Mr. Blair but chose instead to back the new prime minister.

He pushed Mr. Blair, along with ex-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, to take a tougher line with Israel over last year’s conflict in Lebanon. Aides say he also expressed private reservations over the Iraq war, although Mr. Miliband voted to authorize military action in 2003.

Much like new French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr. Brown also was seeking to offer roles to opposition legislators and leading business figures.

The British press reported that Chris Patten, an opposition Conservative who was the last British governor of Hong Kong, and Shirley Williams, a Liberal Democrat peer and war critic, would be offered junior posts.

Alan Sugar, a business mogul who stars in Britain’s version of “The Apprentice” TV show, would be made an adviser, press reports said.

“I will build a government that uses all the talents,” Mr. Brown told reporters yesterday.

Alistair Darling, the current trade and industry secretary — and another Scotsman — is widely expected to be named new Treasury chief, succeeding Mr. Brown.

Mr. Blair departed yesterday to rousing applause and tears from lawmakers. He said he was sorry for the perils faced by British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan but gave no apology for his decisions to back the United States in taking military action.

“I wish everyone — friend or foe — well,” Mr. Blair said before departing the chamber to cheers. “And that is that. The end.”

President Bush was the first world leader to offer his congratulations in a phone call soon after Mr. Brown’s appointment, a British spokesman said. Their 10-minute talk was “cordial and constructive.”

Mr. Brown also held brief telephone chats with Mr. Sarkozy, Irish leader Bertie Ahern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian chief Roman Prodi.