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Britain's new prime minister picks youngest foreign secretary in decades

Britain ’s new Prime minister chose his senior circle of ministers on Thursday. One of them - 41-year-old David Miliband – is to be the youngest foreign secretary in decades - a rising star in the party who voiced doubts over Tony Blair's foreign policy.

Miliband, chosen by new Prime Minister Gordon Brown for one of the Cabinet's top jobs, said he supported a foreign policy that was "patient as well as purposeful."

The former environment chief in Blair's government, had pushed Blai and ex-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to take a tougher line with Israel over last year's conflict in Lebanon and had expressed doubts over the Iraq war - although he voted for military action in 2003.

"The opportunities and challenges of the modern world requires in my view a diplomacy that is patient as well as purposeful - which listens as well as leads - and those are the virtues that I will be trying to bring to bear in my leadership of the Foreign Office," Miliband told reporters just minutes before the confirmation was announced.

The appointment may help Brown win back the trust of voters who bitterly opposed the U.S.-led Iraq war.

Brown allowed families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan into his Downing Street office as he made his first speech as leader Wednesday. He also plans to reverse restrictions on protests around Parliament.

Miliband, the youngest foreign secretary since a 38-year-old David Owen took the job in 1977, replaces Margaret Beckett, who was packing to leave her office Thursday after little more than 12 months as Britain's chief diplomat.

"It's a radical reshuffle from Brown, and by promoting his party's bright young things he's demonstrating that this is a huge change from the days of Tony Blair," said Julian Astle, director of the Center Forum, a liberal think tank in London.

Brown, who became prime minister Wednesday, also plans to offer roles to opposition legislators as part of sweeping changes to break with Blair's era.

The 56-year-old Scotsman was to replace Britain's home secretary, health secretary and to appoint his own replacement as Treasury chief.

Straw was tapped to become justice secretary - a portfolio that will also include constitutional affairs. Brown has spoken of the need for strong constitutional reforms. Britain does not have a written constitution.

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

British media reported that Chris Patten, an opposition Conservative who was the last British governor of Hong Kong, and Baroness 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, British media reported.

"I will build a government that uses all the talents," Brown told reporters Wednesday.

Alistair Darling, the current trade and industry secretary - and another Scotsman - was named new Treasury chief.

Blair, who quit Wednesday as both leader and a British legislator, was beginning preparations Thursday for his daunting new role as envoy to the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators.

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