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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 13:57 GMT
Brown backs stronger India role
Wipro chairman Azim Premji (left) and Gordon Brown at Wipro HQ in Bangalore
Mr Brown (centre) visited software company Wipro in Bangalore
UK chancellor Gordon Brown has backed a stronger role for India on the international stage.

Speaking in the city of Bangalore on his first official trip to the country, Britain's prime minister in waiting talked of a "new world order".

Separately, he also called "offensive" allegedly racist remarks directed at Indian film star Shilpa Shetty on UK reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother.

Mr Brown will also visit Delhi and the financial capital, Mumbai (Bombay).

Observers say the chancellor's three-day visit is an attempt to move beyond fiscal policy and strengthen his international credentials.

He is widely expected to succeed Tony Blair as prime minister later this year.

Trade ties

Correspondents say Mr Brown's choice of Bangalore as the first stop on the visit points to the approach he is expected to take in relations with India.

It is time to formally recognise on a more consistent and regular basis the reality of this emerging new world order
UK Chancellor Gordon Brown

He told business leaders in the city that he strongly backs India's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

He also said rich nations, Britain included, must acknowledge a changing world order and that the G-7, an exclusive club, might have to think about opening its doors.

"Let me say Britain strongly supports India's bid for a permanent place, with others, on a larger Security Council," Mr Brown told the Confederation of Indian Industry conference in a keynote address.

"It is time to formally recognise on a more consistent and regular basis the reality of this emerging new world order."

Mr Brown also visited one of India's leading software companies, Wipro, in Bangalore.

Stressing the importance of trade links between the two countries is expected to be a key theme of his visit. India is now the third largest investor in the UK, with more than 500 Indian companies opening offices there.

And several British firms, including mobile giant Vodafone and retailer Tesco, are hoping to gain entry into the Indian market.

Mr Brown will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders in Delhi on Thursday, where climate change and combating terrorism are likely to feature on the agenda.

On Friday he will visit a Bollywood film studio in the financial and film capital, Mumbai.

Big Brother row

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson who is travelling with Mr Brown says diplomats in India believe the Big Brother row is damaging Britain's reputation.

Mr Brown said the issue had been raised repeatedly during his trip.

"I understand that in the UK there have already been 10,000 complaints from viewers about these remarks, which people see, rightly, as offensive," he said.

"I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance. Anything detracting from this I condemn."

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