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PM Blair Endorses Gordon Brown as His Successor

In London, Finance Minister Gordon Brown has launched his bid to lead the British government after Prime Minister Tony Blair steps down next month.

Mr. Blair, who also will resign as leader of the ruling Labor Party on June 27, said Friday he is delighted to support Brown's candidacy to succeed him at the end of June.

Brown has managed the British economy well, Mr. Blair says, adding that the 54-year-old Scot has the strength, judgment and experience to make a great prime minister.

Brown began his campaign Friday acknowledging that mistakes have been made in Iraq. However, he said Britain must meet its obligations to the Iraqi people.

Mr. Blair met with visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Friday. He will travel to Washington next week for meetings with President Bush.

The White House said the two leaders' talks on Wednesday and Thursday will cover a wide range of issues, including strengthening democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and advancing peace and security in the Middle East. U.S. officials say Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush will discuss efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, to promote free and fair trade and also how the world powers can work to end genocide in Darfur.