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Friday, September 24, 1999 Published at 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK

UK Politics

Ashdown to attend Labour conference

Paddy Ashdown has come under fire over his links with Labour

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown is to make his first appearance at a Labour Party Conference next week.

Mr Ashdown, who stood down as leader earlier this year, will share a platform with Foreign Secretary Robin Cook at a fringe meeting.

The pair will speak on creating the conditions for early intervention in international crises like Kosovo and East Timor.

The extent of Lib-Lab ties remains an underlying theme among Liberal Democrats and resurfaced during this week's party conference.

Mr Kennedy has refused to rule out extending links with Labour from constitutional issues to other areas.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Ashdown supported that position.

He said: "I don't think it is a question of being cool or hot, I think it is a question of being practical.

[ image: Charles Kennedy:
Charles Kennedy: "Adult politics"
"Charles was absolutely correct in saying yesterday what I have said on many occasions before, which is, where we agree, it is just adult politics to work together for the benefit of the things we believe in and the country we serve."

But Mr Ashdown's appearance at the Labour conference in Bournemouth will possibly irritate some Lib Dem members who believe he took the party too close to the government.

Mr Ashdown will use the platform to set out his "code for survival for the 21st century".

He said it was vital the international community learned the lessons of Kosovo and East Timor so that it could intervene earlier to prevent dangerous situations getting out of hand.

Mr Ashdown said: "What I am wishing to do here is to begin to establish a framework for international law which enables the international community to act earlier in places like East Timor."

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