British foreign secretary announces strategic shift for diplomatic network

14:24, May 12, 2011      

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Foreign Secretary William Hague on Wednesday announced a new strategic shift for the Foreign Ministry's overseas network that will extend its global reach and strengthen its influence.

The ministry will open new embassies in El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, South Sudan and when local conditions permit, in Madagascar and Somalia.

Hague has been clear that Britain will reject "strategic shrinkage" and "we will retain all existing 140 embassies and high commissions around the world. Our diplomacy is being extended for the first time in decades."

In addition, Britain plans to increase its presence in major emerging powers such as China and India.

"We will strengthen our frontline staff in China by up to 50 officials and in India by 30, working to transform the UK's relationships in their fastest growing cities and regions," Hague said, "We will also make a substantial expansion of our diplomatic strength in Brazil, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia."

Hague told parliament that Brtiain's embassies and high commissions "are the essential infrastructure of our country's influence overseas and of our economic recovery."

The network shift will in part be funded by reductions in staffing elsewhere, including in Europe, with the planned withdrawal of some diplomatic staff from European subordinate posts and finding new ways to deliver consular and trade functions in such locations.

Source: Xinhua
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