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Announcements on GOV.UK

Updated: 2018-01-22T19:42:29+00:00


Press release: Foreign Secretary meeting with Secretary Tillerson


Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with his American counterpart in London

Following the meeting held in London on 22 January 2018, a Foreign Office spokesperson said:

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hosted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

During their meeting, which took place at the Foreign Secretary’s official London residence in Carlton Gardens, the two ministers discussed a full range of bilateral and international issues, underscoring the strength of the UK/US relationship. Today’s meeting followed on from Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Secretary Johnson’s meeting in Vancouver last week.

On Iran, they reflected on recent developments and discussed the UK and US’s respective views on the Iran nuclear deal. The Foreign Secretary emphasised that the UK believes the Iran nuclear deal is working, and that the UK would work closely with US, European and international partners to tackle Iran’s disruptive behaviour in the region.

On Syria, the Foreign Secretary expressed his support for Secretary Tillerson’s recent speech on the Syrian crisis. The Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary discussed how to move towards a political process that would lead to the end of the Asad regime.

On Yemen, they agreed on the importance of moving forward towards a political solution that would end the humanitarian suffering.

The Foreign Secretary and Secretary Tillerson will meet again in Paris tomorrow for discussions on Syria and Yemen with their European and Middle Eastern counterparts.

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Press release: International Development Secretary in Somalia: “The UK averted famine last year, but the job is not yet done”


Penny Mordaunt saw how the UK is tackling the causes and consequences of instability in Somalia including helping those impacted by extreme drought. The International Development Secretary has travelled to Somalia, where she saw how the UK is tackling both the causes and consequences of instability, including how UK aid is saving lives and helping those impacted by extreme drought. This was Ms Mordaunt’s first visit to Somalia as International Development Secretary. During the visit, Ms Mordaunt saw how life-saving water, food and healthcare provided by DFID helped avert famine in 2017, in the face of devastating drought across East Africa. She was also told about the extreme and challenging climate conditions, which the country will continue to face in 2018. Low levels of forecasted rain threaten crops and livestock, leaving half the Somali population hungry and at risk of disease. Without sustained relief and recovery there is a real risk of famine in the near future. The International Development Secretary said: The devastating consequences of drought in Somalia remain a major concern. The UK led the global effort to avert famine last year, but the country is facing further difficult conditions in 2018. The job is not yet done. I am very clear that this is not just Somalia’s problem. The whole world is less safe when instability, poverty and extreme weather triggered by climate change are left to feed extremism and mass migration. This is why the work we are doing here is so important, from British troops helping develop Somali forces, to world-class diplomats delivering a peaceful future and aid workers providing life-saving water and food. This is why the international community also needs to step up their support to Somalia before more innocent lives are lost. Ms Mordaunt pledged an additional £21 million for immediate lifesaving aid in Somalia, which will include: Screening and treatment for 130,000 children at risk of life-threatening acute malnutrition Providing nutrition support for over 300,000 vulnerable people including with cash support Maintaining access to water and improved sanitation for over 155,000 people Food security and livelihoods support to approximately 40,000 beneficiaries Vaccinations for 12.5 million goats against respiratory tract diseases, benefitting over 2 million farmers Ms Mordaunt met with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre and members of his Government during the visit. In a meeting with Peter de Clercq, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Somalia, she also learned how NGOs and other agencies effectively pooled their resources last year to tackle the debilitating drought. The UN Drought Operations Coordination Centre established in February 2017 played a crucial role in tackling the effects of a fourth bad harvest in a row. She also learned during the trip about the progress made on vital reforms agreed at last year’s landmark Somalia Conference in London; including finding a political settlement, supporting economic recovery and building stability to reduce the risk of violent extremism, which is keeping the UK safe at home. She discussed with civil society and private sector representatives ways to empower youth, women and marginalised groups, including disabled people, in the restoration of democracy and building a more inclusive economy. Ms Mordaunt’s visit follows a two-day trip to Kenya where she saw the UK working in partnership with the government to break down barriers to trade and encourage economic growth, allowing British companies to harness the untapped potential Africa presents for business after Brexit. Notes to Editors In 2017, UK aid was first on the scene with life-saving water, food and healthcare after widespread drought across East Africa, saving many thousands of lives. We provided a total of £170 million humanitarian funding, which included providing over 1 million people with access to safe drinking water, and over 1.5 million people with emergency food assistance. In addition to this [...]

News story: Director General Gareth Davies’ Visit to Singapore


He shared how UK’s newly published Industrial Strategy aligns closely with the priorities of Singapore’s Committee for the Future Economy

On 14 and 15 December 2017, Director General Gareth Davies, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, visited Singapore. He leads on the implementation of the Industrial Strategy, including exploring linkages with Singapore’s government and businesses.

Apart from meeting Academics from National University of Singapore and Singapore Institute of Technology, he spoke with representatives from Agency for Science, Technology and Research; as well as the National Research Foundation and Singtel Innov8. The Director General shared an update on UK’s Industrial Strategy and discussed the innovation landscape in UK and Singapore.

During his two days in Singapore, Director General Gareth Davies also visited Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry to discuss the UK-Singapore Economic and Business Partnership, building on their shared interests and strong relationship.

Other partners that he met included the Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles (CETRAN), British Chamber of Commerce, AI Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Newcastle University.

Director General Gareth Davies met representatives from Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry to discuss the UK-Singapore Economic and Business Partnership.

What do the UK’s Industrial Strategy and Singapore’s Committee on the Future Economy Have In Common?

Creating Innovative Economies
Good Jobs and Greater Earning Power For All
Upgrading Physical and Digital Infrastructure
Creating Good Conditions to Start and Grow Businesses
Ensuring Prosperous Communities

To read Director General Gareth Davies’ opinion editorial ‘Moving Together : UK and Singapore’s Economic Strategies’, visit here. The article also appeared on The Business Times on 14 December 2017.

News story: Minister Field statement on terrorist attack in Kabul


Mark Field, FCO Minister for Asia and the Pacific, condemns the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan

Minister Field said:

This weekend’s terrorist attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul was another tragedy for a country and people who continue to confront such threats with great resolve. I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to all those killed and injured in the attack. I commend the valiant efforts of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces who worked day and night with great courage and skill to defeat the terrorists, and whose swift intervention certainly prevented greater casualties.

The UK will continue to work with allies and partners to help the Afghan government defeat terrorism and to support the development of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in dealing with this threat. We remain committed to helping the Afghan people achieve a peaceful and secure future. Terrorism will not succeed.

Speech: Supporting efforts for peace and security in Afghanistan


UN Security Council statement by the Minister for Asia and the Pacific Minister Mark Field on building regional partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia.Thank you Mr President, I commend you for your leadership, foresight and diplomacy in convening this important and timely debate. And thank you to the Secretary General for your insightful briefing. As many of you have said regional partnerships are crucial to achieving long term peace and security. This of course is particularly important when we consider the future prosperity of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is making genuine, sustainable progress in overcoming its many challenges. I saw this for myself when I visited Kabul only 3 months ago. The international community has a crucial role to play in encouraging and promoting this progress, as do the regional partnerships and the initiatives that have been discussed here today. We warmly welcome the efforts underway to improve the links between Afghanistan and its regional partners in South and Central Asia. This, I believe, is critical to achieve greater economic development in Afghanistan, which of course is an essential factor for long-term stability. Now such co-operation will bind common economic interests, reduce frictions and provide further avenues for resolving disputes. The CASA 1000 hydroelectric project is a great example of the benefits of this type of regional co-operation. Afghanistan and its neighbours have worked together and alongside the international community to overcome significant challenges, bringing this important endeavour to the point of implementation. We are confident that more, much more, regional co-operation will now follow. There is a clear appetite for it within some of the most important regional groups, such as the Regional Economic Co-operation Conference on Afghanistan, or RECCA, and the Heart of Asia. Today’s meeting is, I believe, an important opportunity to demonstrate this Security Council’s whole-hearted support for that type of co-operation. However, Mr President, there is still a long way to go before Afghanistan’s government and people achieve their goal of building a more stable and prosperous country. The United Kingdom will continue to play our part within the international community in supporting this goal. We have committed up to £750 million for the 4 years up to 2020 to help support the Afghan government’s work to improve security, to reduce poverty, and to increase broad access to health and education. We are also working closely within NATO to support Afghanistan. Our non-combat troops have played a crucial role in supporting the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. Through the National Army Officer Academy we have helped to train over 3000 cadets – these are Afghanistan’s military leaders of the future. But ultimately, as others have observed and will do of the course of this debate, the solution to long-term peace and stability lies not within the military, but in a peace process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. That is why the forthcoming meeting of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Co-operation is so very important. We encourage all of Afghanistan’s regional partners to fully support these efforts towards peace. It takes vision, courage and leadership to begin a conversation with your adversary after years of violence and bloodshed. However, the time is now surely ripe for that conversation. The people of Afghanistan deserve peace. So we urge President Ghani and the government to use the meeting to reach out to the insurgents and to try to launch a credible peace process. All of us here today should, collectively and individually, express our full support for this peace process, which is vital for Afghanistan’s long-term stability. Credible, inclusive and timely elections are also essential. We commend the work of various UN bodies in helping the government to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections t[...]

Speech: Working together to persuade states not to obtain weapons of mass destruction


Statement by Minister for Asia and the Pacific Minister Mark Field at the United Nations Security Council on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.Mr Chairman, Mr Secretary-General, on behalf of the UK government may I warmly congratulate Kazakhstan on becoming the first Central Asian nation to steer and chair the Security Council. As has been pointed out your historic commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament is well known. We welcome this important debate because our collective security and prosperity depend on an effective global non-proliferation regime. Now it is sometimes, I think, easy to forget just how recently the global community coalesced around a common strategy in this sphere. There were very dark predictions made during the 1960s and 1970s of a bleak world in which dozens of nuclear armed states vied with each other. Yet today, thanks to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that number of nuclear states remains in single figures. Together, we have painstakingly constructed a comprehensive set of rules, norms and standards that counter the proliferation of all types of Weapons of Mass Destruction and their means of delivery. If the rule book that we have written together is to remain effective in this century, we must all meet our responsibilities to protect and implement our common rules, norms and standards – and hold those who breach them properly to account. The success or failure depends on our ability to work together. This of course is illustrated by the examples of Iran, North Korea and Syria, which I shall now briefly discuss. The threat of a nuclear Iran brought the international community, this Security Council, together to defend our commonly-held rules and to protect our shared security interests. Through our painstaking joint diplomacy and co-ordinated pressure Iran came to the negotiating table. Collectively we agreed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which we in the UK continue to steadfastly support. We should always remember that before the deal, Iran could have produced enough fissile material for a weapon in a few months. Now all experts would suggest this would take at least a year. All of us in this Security Council should be proud of this success that we achieved by working together. Let us please continue this work. On North Korea rightly we have had successes. Not least because we have worked together. North Korea has repeatedly, continuously flouted our non-proliferation rules, with deepening consequences for international security. We agreed that the DPRK’s development of a nuclear programme is illegal and cannot be accepted. In response, this Council collectively imposed the strictest sanctions in a generation with a number of Security Council Resolutions. Rest assured these measures are already having an impact. The Security Council must, in my view, continue to stand united, on both North Korea and Iran. By contrast, the Security Council has not been as united in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Regrettably it has been Russia that has repeatedly in this Council wielded its veto despite clear conclusions from an impartial independent expert investigation, set up by the Council itself, that the Syrian Regime and Daesh have repeatedly used chemical weapons. I fear that this Council’s lack of unity and resolve on Syria sends the most dangerous possible signal of a confused message to would-be proliferators of the future. The Security Council must be prepared to hold all transgressors to account. And the UK implores those in this Council that have stood in the way of action to join the consensus for the future. Mr President, the lesson for this Council could not be clearer when we work together, we can persuade and cajole States to abandon their ambitions to obtain weapons of mass destruction. If we do not it is the most vulnerable, civilians often, who suffer, and the security [...]

Press release: Minister for Europe's statement on human rights in Russia following the arrest of Oyub Titiev


Minister Sir Alan Duncan calls on the Chechen authorities to ensure the safety and the right to a fair trial of human rights activist Oyub Titiev.

On 9 January prominent human rights activist Oyub Titiev, the Director of Russian non-governmental organisation (NGO) Memorial’s office in Chechnya, was detained by the Chechen authorities. He was subsequently charged with the illegal acquisition and storage of narcotics.

Although significant doubts have been raised about the legitimacy of these allegations, a local court has remanded him in custody until 9 March. Overnight on 16 January Memorial’s office in Ingushetia – a neighbouring republic in the North Caucasus – was destroyed by an arson attack.

Sir Alan Duncan said:

The decision of the Chechen authorities to charge Oyub Titiev, the Director of Russian human rights NGO Memorial’s office in Chechnya, and remand him in custody until 9 March, is extremely concerning. Since his arrest, Mr Titiev’s family has also faced harassment and threats which have forced them to flee the region. This is yet another example of the restrictions on freedom within Russia which I raised in Moscow in December.

I was appalled to also hear that Memorial’s office in the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia has been destroyed by an arson attack overnight. This is clearly another attempt to disrupt and intimidate Memorial and other NGOs working on crucial human rights issues in the North Caucasus region of Russia. The Russian government must urgently investigate this attack and hold those responsible to account.

The Chechen authorities must ensure the safety of Mr Titiev and allow him the right to a fair trial, and immediately cease the intimidation, harassment and detention of individuals and groups advocating such fundamental freedoms.

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Press release: FCO Minister for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field to attend UN Security Council meetings


Foreign Office Minister Mark Field begins a 2-day visit to New York, where he will represent the UK at the United Nations Security Council.

The Foreign Office Minister for Asia and the Pacific Minister Mark Field will today (18 January) begin a 2-day visit to New York, where he will represent the UK at the UN Security Council. On Thursday he will deliver a statement on counter-proliferation and on Friday attend the council meeting on Afghanistan.

During his visit the Minister will also meet with the Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, host a meeting on climate change with Commonwealth countries and meet with representatives from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Speaking ahead of his visit Minister Field said:

The UK remains committed to a world without nuclear weapons. We believe the best way to achieve this goal is through gradual multilateral disarmament, negotiated step-by-step, within existing frameworks.

With our international partners we must continue to prevent proliferation and must hold to account states that breach our rules.

On the Afghanistan meeting the Minister said:

Afghanistan is making real progress in overcoming many challenges. However, there is still work to be done to help Afghanistan’s government and people achieve their goal of building a more stable and prosperous country.

The UK continues to play our part in supporting this goal. We have committed up to £750 million for the 4 years up to 2020 to support the Afghan government’s work to improve security, reduce poverty, and increase access to health and education.

This UN Security Council meeting will be a chance to, collectively and individually, express our full support for the efforts of the Afghan government to take forward a peace process, which will be vital for Afghanistan’s long term stability.

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News story: UK to step up French operations in Africa as PM and President Macron meet for UK-France Summit


The UK is to bolster a key French counter-terrorism operation in Africa by deploying three RAF Chinook helicopters to Mali.The Prime Minister is expected to make the announcement as part of the UK-France Summit at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where she will discuss the UK’s strong and wide-ranging bilateral relationship with President Macron. The helicopters, which will provide logistic support to French troops, are part of a wider effort to increase stability in the Sahel region of Africa in order to tackle Islamist terrorism. UK and French efforts in the region aim to provide greater stability, reducing the global terrorist threat and stemming the flow of illegal migration to Europe. The UK has been a long-standing supporter of UN, EU and African Union military operations in Mali and has worked with international partners to prevent extremists from using the ungoverned space in the Sahel to plan and launch attacks on Europe, as well as counter the illegal trade in people, drugs, weapons and wildlife. This is in addition to existing wider support to Africa including doubling our UN peacekeeping contribution with additional deployments to South Sudan and Somalia. Today the UK and France also agreed to work together to ensure EU African Peace Facility funding for AMISOM in Somalia. The deployment of Chinooks to Mali will increase British support to France’s Operation BARKHANE, in addition to strategic air transport flights already being carried out by the RAF. British military personnel will not be involved in combat operations, but the deployment of Chinooks will provide a niche capability providing logistical support but also saving lives by avoiding the need to move troops by ground where they are more vulnerable to attack. Alongside the military contribution, DfID will allocate £50m of additional aid including lifesaving humanitarian support for hundreds of thousands of people affected by epidemics, natural disasters and conflict across Mali, Niger, Chad, North Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. This will provide 320,000 people with emergency food and nutrition support and provide protection for 255,000 internally displaced people, returnees, refugees and their host communities. It will also supply clean water and better sanitation for 150,000 people. The FCO is also exploring ways to better support the UK national interest in the region by enhancing the UK diplomatic presence. In addition, the Home Office will work with key African partners to build their capability to tackle human trafficking in support of the UK’s migration and modern slavery agenda. Discussions on taking this work forward will take place with the French after the Summit. France has also agreed to commit troops to the UK-led NATO battlegroup in Estonia in 2019, building on the successful joint deployment which the Prime Minister and President Macron visited together last year. These personnel will make up part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe, providing deterrence in the face of increasing Russian assertiveness. This further deployment of UK and French forces alongside our Estonian allies represents both the UK and France’s shared commitment to upholding the deterrence and defence posture of NATO, and more widely our firm resolve and commitment to European security. Today’s Summit, which will be attended by UK Cabinet Ministers and their counterparts, will mark President Macron’s first visit to the UK as President. While Summits in previous years have focussed on defence and security, foreign policy and nuclear energy, the 2018 Summit will be broadened to cover the full spectrum of the UK-France bilateral relationship including prosperity, innovation, science and education. Hundreds of thousands of British citizens live in France while hundreds of thousands of French nat[...]

Speech: "All Libyans, regardless of their age, gender, or where they are from, must feel represented and understood by their political leaders."


Statement by Ambassador Jonathan Allen, Chargé d’Affaires, on the political situation in Libya and its impact on the Libyan people.Thank you Mr President. And may I thank both Ghassan and Rina for your briefings here today. And a very warm welcome and thank you also to our briefer from civil society, Ms. Sharief, who set out some very powerful messages and set out very eloquently the importance of an inclusive peace process, including particularly women and youth, and actually it would be very helpful, perhaps as follow up to this conversation to hear anymore from UNSMIL on how they are integrating the gender perspective in their work. Let me begin, Mr President, by welcoming the Special Representative Salamé’s update on the political process and reiterating the United Kingdom’s full support for his work. In our statement of the 14 December, we in this Council urged all parties to support the political process in a spirit of compromise for the sake of the Libyan people. This must include support for Special Representative Salamé’s efforts to secure consent to amend the Libyan Political Agreement and commitment to the sequencing of the UN Action Plan. As Ms. Sharief highlighted, civil society has an essential role to play in ensuring the voices of the people are also heard during discussions on the future of their country. All Libyans, regardless of their age, gender, or where they are from, must feel represented and understood by their political leaders. This will encourage Libyan’s to give their political leadership their support and build trust in the political process. The greatest immediate need is the establishment of a more inclusive political platform. That is essential to create an executive better able to improve the security, human rights and economic conditions in Libya. A more inclusive political settlement will also help build a context more conducive to preparation for elections. We welcome the Special Representative’s emphasis on ensuring the right conditions are in place ahead of elections, including the necessary political, legislative and security preparations to ensure their success. Mr President, The security situation in Libya remains of deep concern, as we saw from clashes at Mitiga airport on Monday. As we’ve said before, there can be no military solution in Libya. All parties must exercise restraint and express their support for national reconciliation. This must include reconciliation of the security forces. Unified security forces under the command of the civilian government, which are representative of and work for all Libyans, will also enable the threat posed by extremist groups to be tackled in a sustainable way. It will help bring an end to the impunity of armed groups which are inextricably linked to the gravely concerning human rights situation. Ungoverned spaces in Libya are creating the conditions for abuses and violations of international humanitarian law which take place against civilians, internally-displaced persons and migrants. We fully support the work of the AU-EU- UN Taskforce in tackling slavery in Libya. We call on all parties that are suspected of committing, ordering, or failing to prevent such human rights abuses and violations to be fully investigated, and if found guilty, to be held to account for their actions. We also stand ready to consider the sanctioning of individuals involved in people trafficking in modern slavery. We are also concerned by reported restrictions to civil and political freedoms and intimidation of civil society organisations, public servants, religious groups and national minorities, including recent attacks of Sufi Shrines and Amazigh representatives. These groups must be allowed to participate in Libyan society and the political process. And finally Mr President, on the e[...]

Speech: Penny Mordaunt speech at launch of National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security.


Only by unlocking women’s potential will we build a safer, more peaceful and more prosperous world for us all.I want to start by telling you a personal story about a woman I met a couple of years ago. Her name is Zara and she was the first woman to graduate from the ANAOA, the Afghan army’s officer training academy, and she was in the first cohort of women to go through the officer training programme. And on graduation she won the sword of honour. To do that she would have had to have sought permission from every male member of her family to join the armed forces, she would have had to endure a very arduous training regime in some very challenging circumstances, whilst raising a child. And she would have faced discrimination and immense challenges. When I first saw the women training some time before I met Zara, they were training behind a brick wall because they were not allowed to integrate with the men. And I asked her- what had been her motivation? Why had she done so much? Why had she challenged herself so much? And why had she put up with so much? And she said- because I have a stake, and I have a child. I love my country and I want to shape it and I want to protect those and what I love. Whether it’s voting or having a say, whether it’s being able to contribute because all your talents have been enabled to flourish. Whether it is being able to live your life to the full because you have control over it, or security. And whether it is being able to defend yourself and those who you love. All of those things we must ensure that women, wherever they are, are able to do so. And there is still so much to do. In particular in conflict situations. Now I know I am preaching to the choir here. But I just want to illustrate this point. I’m told that at this event today there are 150 people. And if I ask this room to pretend for a moment that you were the world’s female population. And I asked you how many of you had suffered either physical or sexual violence and I asked you to stand up, 50 of you would be standing. If I got you to imagine that you were the female population of South Sudan and I asked you the same question, 100 of you would be standing. And If I asked you to imagine you were the female population of Afghanistan, where Zara comes from, 130 of you would be on your feet. So there is still much to do. But we are increasingly seeing that women, when they wield power in places of conflict, they are capable of bringing about extraordinary change. When women have a seat at the negotiating table, security improves. Peace lasts longer. 35% longer. But other development initiatives also become more effective. The Women, Peace and Security agenda benefits everyone – from the local community to national government and everyone in between. Peace brings stability. Stability attracts business. And business creates prosperity, which transforms lives and economies. This agenda isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. It is the entire margin of victory. Its benefits ripple out to the wider world. And make no mistake – a safer world means a safer UK. This spirit of participation – this principle of women as agents of change – lies at the heart of the new National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. From Somalia to Syria, from Burma to Afghanistan, women have been instrumental in the development of the plan. And I am proud to help launch it today. The National Action Plan will place women at the very centre of DFID’s peace, security and humanitarian programmes. This means taking proper account of women’s needs in conflict zones. But it also means recognising the valuable role women play as decision-makers and leaders. And crucially, it means ensuring women are involved in planning a[...]

Press release: Girls’ education to be central pillar of UK foreign, development and defence policy


Ministers to launch the UK national action plan on women, peace and security.Updated: Added translationChampioning girls’ education to promote global stability will be at the heart of UK foreign, development and defence policy to positively transform the lives of women and girls in conflict settings, senior ministers have agreed. At an event today (16 January) at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for the FCO and the PM’s Special representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon and Defence Minister Mark Lancaster will launch the UK’s fourth national action plan (NAP) on women, peace and security. The plan sets out how the UK will support women in conflict zones around the world to play an active role in ensuring peace and security in their communities. International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: From Somalia to Syria, and from Burma and Afghanistan, women have been instrumental in the development of the UK’s national action plan on women, peace and security. It’s a sad truth that women suffer disproportionately all around the world during times of crisis. It’s essential to harness the huge potential of the next generation to work towards a more secure, more prosperous future. We know that women can be agents of change which is why DFID is placing women at the very heart of its peace, security, education, and humanitarian programmes. Minister of State for the FCO and the Prime Minister’s Special representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon said: Conflict affects whole communities, but women and children are often the worst affected. This year the Foreign Secretary and I will focus on ensuring that girls in the poorest countries in the world receive at least 12 years of quality education because this is the single most powerful spur to development and progress. Without question women must have a seat at the table. We know that when women and girls participate in political processes, conflict resolution and mediation their contribution helps to build a more sustainable peace. Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said: Protecting human rights goes to the very heart of who we are as a nation, and our Armed Forces are leaders in this on an international level. Our national action plan sets out to create a better future for women across the globe: in which there is zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, and in which women and men make a full contribution to the peace and security of all. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by conflict and crisis and they are part of the solution. For example, evidence shows that when women participate meaningfully in peace agreements they are 35% more likely to last at least 15 years. This NAP sets a bold new direction, putting women and girls at the heart of Britain’s work to prevent and resolve conflict for the next five years. Three new countries have been added to the plan Nigeria, South Sudan, Iraq in addition to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Burma and Afghanistan. The NAP sets out that to build sustainable and lasting peace and create stable societies, women around the world must be able to participate in peace processes and peacekeeping missions. Read the new national action plan. Notes to editors the NAP will focus on 7 strategic outcomes where the UK can really make a difference (decision making; peacekeeping; gender-based violence; humanitarian response; security and justice; preventing and countering violence extremism; and UK capabilities) which are linked to the 4 pillars of Women, Peace and Security (prevention, part[...]

Press release: Minister for the Middle East statement following meeting with Syrian Opposition


Alistair Burt met with the Syrian Negotiation Commission, led by Nasser Hariri, in London on 16 January 2018.

Updated: Added translation

Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said:

The UK continues to play a leading role in response to the tragedy in Syria. We have committed nearly £2.5 billion to our humanitarian response to the crisis.

I am alarmed that in spite of commitments to de-escalation the regime and its backers continue to bomb and shell opposition areas in eastern Ghouta and Idlib. In recent weeks these regime offensives have killed hundreds of civilians, displaced tens of thousands, and destroyed hospitals and other civilian infrastructure. These attacks must stop.

After nearly seven years of conflict and over 400,000 deaths, it is abundantly clear that only a political settlement can bring a durable end to the human suffering and the regional instability the conflict fuels.

Along with our international partners, the UK supports the efforts of the UN-mediated Geneva process as we believe this is the best way of reaching a lasting political settlement to end the conflict. We commend the constructive engagement by Nasser Hariri and the Syrian opposition in the latest round of Geneva talks and call on the Syrian regime to likewise engage constructively and agree to direct talks.

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Press release: Change of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Cambodia in June 2018


Ms Tina Redshaw has been appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Ms Tina Redshaw has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia in succession to Mr Bill Longhurst, who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Ms Redshaw will take up her appointment in June 2018.


Full name: Tina Susan Redshaw

2016 – present Full time language training

2013 – 2016 Chongqing, Her Majesty’s Consul General

2011 – 2013 FCO, Deputy Head of Climate Change & Energy Department

2011 FCO, Head of Multilateral team, Asia Pacific Directorate

2007 – 2010 Beijing, Head of Energy, Environment & Infrastructure, UK Trade & Investment

2006 – 2007 FCO, Researcher for FCO Board

2003 – 2006 Timor Leste, Her Majesty’s Ambassador

2000 – 2003 Beijing, First Secretary

1999 – 2000 FCO, China, Hong Kong Department

1999 Joined FCO

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Press release: Statement on killing of Kosovo-Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic


Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan has commented on the murder of Oliver Ivanovic in Mitrovica.

Sir Alan Duncan said:

We are deeply shocked and concerned by the killing of Oliver Ivanovic.

We call upon the Kosovo police and other rule of law institutions to investigate this incident thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice at the earliest opportunity.

It is particularly important that politicians and those in public life are able to operate without fear of violence. This is exactly the kind of violence that we wish to see eradicated from the Western Balkans.

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Press release: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson calls for a united front on North Korea at summit in Vancouver


The Foreign Secretary urged the international community to maintain pressure on the North Korean regime through strict UN sanctions.

The Foreign Secretary has welcomed the resumption of talks between North and South Korea, but urged the international community to maintain its pressure on the North Korean regime through the implementation of strict UN sanctions.

Mr Johnson was speaking at a 2-day gathering in Vancouver jointly hosted by the US and Canada, focusing on security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The Foreign Secretary said:

There can be no doubt that the crisis is intensifying, we had 20 tests within the last year, 20 missiles, 2 of which flew over Japan, and 1 testing of a nuclear device.

It’s very important and encouraging that the world is not being intimidated or divided by the threat from North Korea and actually we have come together and in Resolution 2397 there was an unprecedented measure of global consensus about what to do and to intensify the political and economic pressure on the regime.

It’s great that conversations are taking place between North Korea and South Korea and great there is an Olympic truce, but I hope people will recognise that the program is continuing in North Korea and that Kim Jong-un continues with his illegal program.

He can continue on the path of provocation and equipping his country with nuclear weapons that will lead to further escalation, further economic pain and hardship of his people or else he has an opportunity to go down a path that will lead to greater wellbeing for his people and a chance to emulate the astonishing achievements of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

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Press release: Change of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Portugal in Summer 2018


Mr Chris Sainty has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic.

Mr Chris Sainty has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic in succession to Ms Kirsty Hayes. Mr Sainty will take up his appointment in summer 2018.


Full name: Christopher James Sainty

Married to: Sarah Helen Sainty

Children: Three

2015 – 2017 FCO, European Correspondent and Head of Europe (South) Department, Europe Directorate

2011 – 2015 Rome, Deputy Head of Mission

2008 – 2010 Islamabad, Political Counsellor

2006 – 2008 The Hague, Deputy Head of Mission

2004 – 2006 FCO, Head of EU Presidency Department

2000 – 2004 Madrid, First Secretary (Political)

1998 – 2000 FCO, Head of Newsroom, Press Office

1996 – 1998 FCO, Common Foreign and Security Policy Unit

1992 – 1996 New Delhi, Second Secretary (Political)

1990 – 1992 FCO, Hong Kong Department

1989 Joined the Diplomatic Service

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Press release: Winning design for 2015 Sousse and Bardo memorial announced


‘Infinite Wave’ has been selected as the memorial dedicated to 31 British nationals who lost their lives to terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015. The ‘Infinite Wave’ by London and Gloucester-based George King Architects has been selected as the design for the memorial dedicated to the 31 British nationals who lost their lives, and to all of those affected by the 2 terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015. An independent panel shortlisted 7 designs from 19 entries, and chose ‘Infinite Wave’ following consultation with family members of those affected by the 2 attacks. As announced last year, the sculpture will be located in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, and construction is due to be completed later on this year. The panel selected ‘Infinite Wave’ due to its beautiful flow and clever use of the natural environment, as well as positive feedback from family members. Announcing the winning design, Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for North Africa, Alistair Burt said: For those who lost loved ones or witnessed the horrendous terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015, resulting in 31 Britons being killed, their lives have never been the same since because of these cowardly acts of terror. I know several families have tried to ensure something good comes out of these terrible events, such as raising money for charity, or improving awareness of extremism in their community and they should be commended for their positivity. I hope that ‘Infinite Wave’ with its beautiful surroundings in Cannon Hill Park, will provide a focal point of tranquillity for families to reflect and remember their loved ones. Chair of the Creative Panel, Mark Castle, CEO, Victim Support, said: The panel were only too aware of the significant responsibility to find a design that is not only stunning to look at, but also one that families can connect with. We knew going into this process that we had a difficult task but the on-line design consultation with families revealed that George King’s concept resonated with many people affected by these terrible events. I think the appeal is not only because of the beautiful flow of the sculpture, and its clever use of the natural environment, but because the single tube of steel in George King’s concept shows how the people affected by these terrible events are intrinsically linked. Suzy Richards, who lost 3 members of her family in the attack said: I chose the infinity design because to me it represents never ending loss and pain of losing 3 generations of my family. My son Joel was just 19, my brother Adrian at 49, and my dad Pat, 79. It also represents our never ending love and beautiful memories we treasure. George King, Principal of George King Architects said: It is wonderful and overwhelming to be chosen to design this memorial. We put the families and their experiences very much at the heart of this concept and didn’t want to gloss over the immense pain they have been and continue to go through. We came up with ‘Infinite Wave’ to show how time stood still for victims on the day of the attacks and designed the surrounding landscape as a series of ripples. The ripples represent the impact that the events in Tunisia in 2015 had beyond those that lost their lives. They represent the survivors, the families of the victims, the local communities, the national heartache and the global loss. Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Parks at Birmingham City Council, said: I am pleased that the memory of those involved in these tragic events will be remembered in [...]

Speech: Arms control statement on behalf of NATO allies, 24th OSCE Ministerial Council


Statement on behalf of NATO member countries, on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, delivered at the OSCE Ministerial Council, 8 December 2017. Statement by the Delegation of the United Kingdom (also on behalf of Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, The United States of America). Thank you, Mr Chairperson. This statement is delivered on behalf of the following participating States: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and the United States of America, as well as my own country, the United Kingdom. Mr Chairperson, arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation continue to play an important role in the achievement of our security objectives. Both the success and failure of these efforts can have a direct impact on our security environment. We welcome the Decision on small arms and light weapons and stockpiles of conventional ammunitions. Enhancing military transparency and confidence in Europe is a top priority. We remain committed to conventional arms control as a key element of Euro-Atlantic security. Full implementation and compliance with these commitments is essential to rebuild trust and confidence in the Euro-Atlantic region. Russia’s unilateral military activity in and around Ukraine continues to undermine peace, security, and stability across the region, and its selective implementation of the Vienna Document and Open Skies Treaty and long-standing non-implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty have eroded the positive contributions of these arms control instruments. We call on Russia to fully adhere to its commitments and treaty obligations. Reciprocal military transparency and risk reduction have the potential to improve stability and security in the Euro-Atlantic area, helping to avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding. We are determined to preserve, strengthen, and modernise conventional arms control in Europe, based on key principles and commitments, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, reciprocity, transparency, and host nation consent. We remain, inter alia, committed to improving implementation of and achieving concrete progress in 2018 on modernising the Vienna Document to adapt it to the evolving security environment, including through its substantive update. We welcome the wealth of concrete proposals aimed, inter alia, at strengthening risk reduction mechanisms, enhancing military transparency, preventing military incidents and rendering verification more effective. We call on Russia, which has a very substantial conventional military force, to constructively engage by joining other Participating States in the ongoing discussions in the OSCE to modernise the Vienna Document, so that we can reach agreement on meaningful updates. Full implementation and modernization of Vienna Document will help to avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding. We also underline that the OSCE remains a relevant and inclusive forum to rebuild trust and confidence through multilateral military dialogue. We welcome the Structured Dialogue as an opportunity to renew a meaningful exchange of ideas among all of the stakeholders of [...]

News story: Troika statement on conflict in South Sudan


UK, US and Norway condemn violations of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement in South Sudan.The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) strongly condemn the continuing pattern of violations of the 21 December 2017 Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement by parties to the South Sudan High Level Revitalisation Forum (the Forum), and call on all parties to immediately and fully implement the CoH in letter and spirit and ensure humanitarian access throughout the country. The Troika has seen strong evidence of violations of the CoH by Government of South Sudan forces in Unity State and by forces associated with opposition groups, including Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition, in Unity State and the Greater Upper Nile region, as witnessed by ceasefire monitors. We are seriously concerned by continuing reports of the movement of forces by all sides in violation of the CoH, including the movement this week of hundreds of Government troops into Jonglei state. The Troika also notes with grave concern the strong evidence from multiple sources linking the attacks in Gudele, Jubek State, on 4 January to former SPLA Chief of Defense Paul Malong and forces under Lt. Colonel Cham Garang, an SPLA-IO commander. We remain committed to holding to account all those who obstruct the realisation of lasting peace for the people of South Sudan, whether or not they are participating directly in the Forum. The HLRF process must be conducted in the spirit of compromise by those South Sudanese leaders who are committed to working for peace. Parties must not be able to increase their influence through force of arms in advance of the second round of talks. The Troika reaffirms its full support for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) efforts to build peace in South Sudan and will continue to follow developments on the ground. We call on our IGAD partners to rapidly investigate all violations and to immediately hold those responsible to account. We will continue to work closely with international and regional partners to ensure full accountability with respect to the CoH and stand ready to impose consequences on those who violate the agreement, also in line with the African Union Peace and Security Council Communiqué of 20 September 2017. Further information Follow the Foreign Office on Twitter @foreignoffice and Facebook Follow the Foreign Office on Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn Media enquiries For journalists Email Newsdesk 020 7008 3100 [...]

Press release: Change of Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Vietnam in July 2018


Mr Gareth Ward has been appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Mr Gareth Ward has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in succession to Mr Giles Lever, who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Mr Ward will take up his appointment in July 2018.


Full name: Gareth Edward Ward

Married to: Olena Ward

Children: Two

2013 – present FCO, Head of China Department

2010 – 2013 St Petersburg, Her Majesty’s Consul General

2007 – 2010 Beijing, First Secretary, Head of Foreign and Security Policy Team

2004 – 2006 FCO, Section Head for Justice and Home Affairs, Europe Directorate

2003 – 2004 FCO, Section Head for Germany and Austria, Europe Directorate

1998 – 2002 Moscow, Second Secretary Development

1996 – 1997 FCO, Desk Officer for Hungary and Bulgaria

1996 Joined FCO

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Press release: Minister for the Middle East statement on settlement plans across the West Bank


Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt condemns the advancement of plans by the Israeli Authorities (10 January) for 1,122 settlement units across the West Bank.

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said:

The UK strongly condemns the advancement by the Israeli authorities of plans and tenders for settlement units across the West Bank. We call on Israel to reconsider these proposals. Settlements are illegal under international law and undermine the physical viability of the two-state solution.

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Speech: Foreign Secretary's statement on the Iran nuclear deal following Brussels meeting, 11 January 2017


Boris Johnson spoke at a joint press conference with the EU High Commissioner and the French and German Foreign Ministers.

Thank you very much. I’m really going to echo what [German Foreign Minister] Sigmar Gabriel and [French Foreign Minister] Jean-Yves Le Drian have already said. This was a very important meeting. It’s very important that as Europeans we come together to express a common view.

That is, number one, that we greatly value the JCPoA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], the nuclear deal with Iran, we think it is a considerable diplomatic accomplishment. It’s a way of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As my colleagues have said, Iran is in compliance with this agreement according to the International Atomic Energy Authority, and that is very, very important to us.

But it is also clearly important to build worldwide support for this deal and that Iran should be able to show, as my colleagues have said, that it is a good neighbour in the region. That’s why it’s legitimate and right that we should, in parallel, not connected with the JCPoA, but in parallel, focus on what Iran can do to resolve the appalling crisis in Yemen, to help push forward a peace in Syria and to help resolve other questions in the region.

I want to stress, just in conclusion, that I don’t think anybody has so far produced a better alternative to the JCPoA as a way of preventing the Iranians from going ahead with their acquisition of a nuclear capability. I don’t think anybody has come up with a better idea. And I think it is incumbent on those who oppose the JCPoA to come up with that better solution, because we haven’t seen it so far.

I also think that if we can keep the deal going, which I very much hope that we can, that the Iranian people should see the economic benefits that will flow from the JCPoA. And that’s why the UK government together with our friends and partners in France and Germany, and of course other EU countries and [EU High Representative] Federica Mogherini, will continue to work for the continuation of the JCPoA.

Watch the Foreign Secretary’s statement

Watch the Foreign Secretary’s statement

Press release: Foreign Secretary discussions on Iran nuclear deal with Iranian and European counterparts


Boris Johnson met his Iranian and European counterparts in Brussels to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, recent protests in Iran and dual-national consular cases.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson travelled to Brussels today (11th January) for high-level meetings focused on the Iran nuclear deal. He was joined in his discussions by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

The UK has always been clear: the Iran nuclear deal is a crucial agreement that makes the world safer. It is vital that we continue to work with our European partners to preserve the Iran deal, and with it the security and prosperity it is bringing to the people of Iran and the world. It is those shared interests which will drive our discussions in Brussels.

Of course there are areas where we disagree with Iran, not least on its destabilising regional activity and its ballistic missile programme. This will be an important part of our conversation.

I will be making it clear to Foreign Minister Zarif, on the subject of the recent protests in Iran, that the right to peaceful demonstration within the law is central to any truly thriving society. I will also raise all of our Iranian dual-national consular cases.

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Speech: "I am very pleased to be able to finish my time in New York with a session on Colombia, one of our greatest success stories"


Statement by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, on Colombia.Thank you Mr President, And let me extend a very warm welcome to Vice President Naranjo. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to you, Mr Vice President, and through you to President Santos for your tireless commitment to peace in Colombia. Thank you also to Jean for your briefing and for the comprehensive report detailing the progress that has been made under the mandate of the UN Verification Mission. I commend you and your team for your continued efforts, both in support of the FARC Peace Agreement and more recently, in participating in the monitoring mechanism for the ELN ceasefire. The courage and diligence of both parties have allowed many positive steps to take place since the Peace Agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC was signed. Over 11,000 FARC members have registered with the UN and are now beginning their reincorporation to civilian life. The new political party – the People’s Alternative Forces of Colombia - can participate in Colombia’s elections this year. And the FARC have handed over their final caches of weapons to the United Nations. These are remarkable achievements. But we are now getting to the hardest part and there is much more work to do. As President Santos said in Cartagena last week, less than 10 percent of the time set out for the Peace Agreement to be delivered has passed. We welcome the continued commitment of both parties to achieve a sustainable peace. We encourage them to continue to work together to overcome the challenges which are only to be expected following over 50 years of conflict. As we have just heard, these challenges include increasing levels of violence in some areas affected by the conflict, and the killings of Human Rights Defenders and former FARC members. I share the concerns set out by the Secretary-General in his report. And so I welcome the important steps taken by the Colombian Government to tackle these concerns. These include the establishment of a more permanent and visible presence by the Police and Security Forces, a strengthened early warning system and a renewed focus on investigations by the Attorney General’s office. Security must be established in these areas to allow communities to realise the full benefits of the Peace Agreement. I welcome also the Government’s commitment to addressing the issue of access to land for former FARC combatants. All these steps taken together are a clear signal of the Government’s commitment to implementation. Looking ahead, I encourage the Government of Colombia to maintain their focus on passing the remaining peace legislation through Congress. An early ruling by the Constitutional Court on amendments made to some key laws will be important to maintaining momentum. This includes a ruling on amendments to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which are vital to make progress in the Transitional Justice system. I had hoped that today we would be discussing the announcement of a renewed ceasefire between the Government and the ELN. Instead I am concerned and disappointed by the news just in that the ELN have broken the ceasefire and squandered this chance for sustained peace. I urge both sides to work together to find a way of avoiding further civilian suffering. Mr President, President Santos, along with Colombia’s leaders, took a b[...]

News story: Harriett Baldwin MP appointed Minister for Africa


Harriett Baldwin MP has been appointed as Minister for Africa for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development.

Speaking following her appointment, Harriett Baldwin said:

I am honoured to have been appointed and look forward to representing Global Britain with African nations to tackle a range of opportunities and challenges in Africa.

The UK has longstanding and important relationships, and I will work for an even stronger partnership with African nations, finding new ways to fight poverty, minimise threats and build mutual prosperity.

Eighteen African countries are part of the Commonwealth, so a priority for the upcoming Commonwealth Summit will be looking at how we meet the ambitions of the next generation, including creating the jobs and economic growth so crucial for a modern Africa.

Speech: Dormitories of hope: Article by British Ambassador to Morocco


Article by British Ambassador to Morocco, Mr Thomas Reilly, on his visit to a dormitory in the Atlas Mountains.It was raining by the time we got to Marrakesh. The long-threatened storm had held off as we had forged our way across the flat desert that forms the northern hinterland boundary to the magical city. But the rain teemed down as we wound our way slowly through the traffic and out beyond the city towards the dimly-seen Atlas Mountains beyond. As the rain fell, so did the temperature. In Rabat that morning, it had been a balmy 21 degrees. Now, in the shadow of the Mountains, the temperature was a chilly 8 degrees and the stiff breeze that accompanied the rain made it feel a lot colder. Fouad parked the car outside the first dormitory. The rain fell in solid slats across the car’s windscreen. Pulling my jacket on, I walked down the mud bank towards the door of the dormitory, my feet splashing in the puddles as I slid towards the door. Inside, a large fire gave a semblance of warmth, but the fact that no one removed their jackets even inside told the real story. The girls were doing their homework, quietly, conscientiously. They looked up and greeted me “Ahlan wa Sahlan”. But I have got ahead of myself… Ten years ago, a British man set up Education for All in Imlil. A charity whose sole purpose is to try and help girls from poor and isolated rural communities have the opportunity to continue their education beyond 12. Many secondary schools in rural communities are heavily over-subscribed, so the timetable is run on a ‘shift’ system. Although classes start at 0830, pupils often have periods during the day without classes. Parents, worried about what their daughters would do during those ‘down’ periods, would frequently prevent their daughters from attending secondary school as a result. EFA builds dormitories near to rural secondary schools, giving the girls a secure, safe environment in which they can live, work and study and to which they can ‘retire’ during the periods of the day when they do not have lessons at the schools. The girls arrive on a Monday morning and go home on a Friday afternoon. The success rate is phenomenal: 83% of girls who go through the EFA dormitories go on to university. The first year of the dormitories, EFA practically had to beg parents to let their daughters stay in the dormitories. Now demand significantly outstrips supply. And it was to those dormitories that I had come on that cold, wet December afternoon. The dormitories are well-built and solid, with good kitchens and places for the girls to study, eat, sleep and chat. But they are not luxurious. As I was shown round the buildings, it dawned on me why the success rate is so high. The girls in the dormitories came from the poorest families in the poorest villages. I saw pictures of some of their houses – whole families living, eating, cooking and sleeping in one room. No one in their families had had an education. These girls were being offered a huge chance and they were seizing it firmly with both hands – it made me embarrassed to think how easily we take a formal education for granted in the UK and how often we waste that opportunity. And I realised again how vitally important education is. Without it the odds are stacked against you – it is harder for a person to reach their potential; harder to de[...]

News story: The Third United Kingdom-Thailand Strategic Dialogue


The Third Session of the UK-Thailand Strategic Dialogue was held in Bangkok on 3 January 2018 The third session of the United Kingdom-Thailand Strategic Dialogue was held at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok, on 3 January 2018. The session was co-chaired by His Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, and The Rt. Hon. Mark Field MP, Minister for Asia and the Pacific at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Strategic Dialogue was established in 2012 and designed to be a high-level forum for regular consultations between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Thailand on areas of bilateral collaboration as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest, in view of the ever-growing strategic partnership between the two countries. The inaugural session of the Strategic Dialogue took place on 20 May 2013 in Bangkok. The two sides welcomed this continued high level engagement and again recognised the strength and strategic importance of the UK/Thailand bilateral relationship, especially in international trade, finance and investment; education; science and innovation; security and defence relations; political engagement; and consular cooperation. They welcomed the bilateral cooperation across the board, and discussed ways to deepen and strengthen this work especially as high level contacts have resumed following the EU FAC’s Conclusions on 11 December 2017. Both sides noted the intention to exchange visits at the highest level. The trading partnership between Thailand and the United Kingdom is strong. Thailand continues to be one of the UK’s largest trading partners in ASEAN. Thailand and the UK committed to working together to ensure trade between our countries faces as few barriers as possible taking into account the Thai-UK Business Leadership Council’s recommendations on market access barriers. Both sides recognised the need to forge even closer relations to improve upon the existing bilateral trade relationship to maintain dynamism of economic cooperation and prepare our future trade relations in the Post-Brexit environment. Thailand hoped that the current poultry quota would not be affected after Brexit. The UK is a leading investor in Thailand. Likewise, Thailand is an emerging investor in the UK. Both delegations looked forward to working together to support the implementation of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and Thailand 4.0. The UK side welcomed the opportunities that this presents and will work closely with British companies to highlight the area for investment. The UK and Thailand welcomed the initiative to focus bilateral cooperation in three sectors where both countries share potential and mutual interests, namely, Aerospace, FinTech, and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). Recognising the importance of people-to-people contacts, the two sides welcomed the continuation of the UK-Thailand Consular Dialogue, which will be held on 19 February 2018. This is an important and productive set of discussions that brings real benefits to the safeguarding of British visitors in Thailand and Thai nationals in the UK. This year, the discussion will focus on Immigration and Documentary Services and their streamli[...]

Speech: Joint OSCE Statement on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms


Joint Statement on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, delivered by the Danish Ambassador to the OSCE on behalf of 44 countries.I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the following 44 participating States: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America and my own country, Denmark. We make this statement in the same week where we celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a collective commitment to recognize and protect the equal dignity, freedom and rights of every human being. Nearly seven decades later, we deeply regret that we are witnessing a continuing deterioration in some participating States in the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, all of which are essential to the realization of comprehensive security. At the same time, we regret that the participating States were unable to reach consensus on draft decisions addressing these challenges. As highlighted in the Vienna Declaration adopted by the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference, the fight against terrorism and violent extremism must go hand in hand with the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, in certain parts of the OSCE region, the space for civil society is rapidly shrinking, both online and offline, and attacks on human rights defenders continue to increase. There are attempts to silence civil society, human rights defenders and free and pluralistic media through restrictive legislation, intimidations, or even violent acts and murder for which those responsible go unpunished. Women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence, and LGBTI persons experience hate crimes and violent ill-treatment. These policies and practices not only violate or abuse human rights and fundamental freedoms, they are also often counter-productive, as they increase mutual suspicion in society, undermine trust in the rule of law and marginalize vulnerable communities. For these reasons, we speak out when human rights and fundamental freedoms are violated or abused. Whether it is human rights defenders facing reprisals for their actions, or persons being harassed, bullied or attacked because of who they are, whom they love or what they believe or say. We will challenge harmful stereotypes, combat myths with facts, and speak out against discrimination on all grounds. We recall our commitments and hold ourselves and each other to account. There may be times where we cannot prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. We commend all individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to safeguard our commitments on human rights and hold governments accountable for their actions. They deserve our recognition and deepest respect. Our defense of and support for Human Right Defenders and civil society are not simply a matter of principle. When people can freely exercise t[...]

Press release: Foreign Secretary's bilateral meeting with the Palestinian Foreign Minister, 8 January 2018


Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Malki to discuss the strong UK-Palestinian relationship.

Speaking after the meeting the Foreign Secretary said:

The UK-Palestinian relationship is strong and long-standing and it was a pleasure to meet Foreign Minister Riyad al Malki to discuss our shared desire to strengthen it further.

During our productive talks I reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian people and the two-state solution, the urgent need for renewed peace negotiations, and the UK’s clear and longstanding position on the status of Jerusalem: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.

I look forward to continuing good relations with Riyad al Malki and our Palestinian friends throughout 2018 and beyond.

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Speech: "Let us not forget: A prosperous, stable Iran is beneficial us all, in the region and beyond"


Statement by Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, on the Situation in the Middle East.Thank you Mr President, and welcome to the hot seat. And thank you to our briefer Assistant Secretary General Zerihoun for the update on the situation in Iran. And a very warm welcome to all the new Members of the Security Council. We look forward to working closely with all six of you to enhance international peace and security. The United Kingdom is watching events in Iran very closely. We regret the loss of life that has occurred during the protests. We call for an end to the violence and for the Government of Iran to comply with its international human rights obligations in dealing with these protests. There needs to be a meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues that the protestors are raising. I note here that President Rouhani has said that the protesters’ concerns are legitimate and that they have a right to peaceful protest. People should be able to exercise their right to freedom of expression and demonstrate peacefully and lawfully. We encourage the Iranian authorities to permit this. No one is forcing Iran onto our agenda. The Security Council is perfectly empowered through Article 34 of the UN Charter, and I quote, “to investigate any dispute or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.” The United Kingdom’s concerns about the human rights situation in Iran extend beyond the recent treatment of protestors. The continued use of the death penalty, including for juveniles, weak rule of law, restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief, are all deeply worrying. We call on Iran to adhere to its international obligations to respect the rights of individuals to freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful assembly. We also urge Iran to permit full access to the Special Rapporteur so she can fully assess Iran’s actions on areas of concern. At the same time Mr President it is important to recognise that Iran has legitimate security interests in the region. Iran suffered hugely in the Iran-Iraq war; we worked with Iran after 9-11. The Iranian people represent an ancient and important civilisation that has a rightful place in the modern world, with a modern economy. But too often Iran’s security interests are pursued in a way that destabilises – and at times directly threatens – others, supports terrorism and distorts the Iranian economy. These regional activities risk increasing international conflict and threaten international peace and security. We are deeply concerned by Iranian assistance to groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. This includes reported transfers of Iranian ballistic missile parts and related technology to the Houthis in Yemen. Such transfers violate our Resolution 2231 which prohibits such transfers without the authorisation of the Security Council. They also violate our Resolution 2216 which prohibits the sale or transfer of arms and related materiel to the Houthis. Houthi missile attacks in November and December target[...]

News story: Imperial War Museum Trustees: Desmond Bowen and Suzanne Nicholas


Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has appointed Desmond Bowen CB CMG, and Suzanne Nicholas to the Board of the Imperial War Museum.

The Foreign Secretary has appointed 2 new Trustees to the Board of the Imperial War Museum following an open competition, each for a period of 4 years.

Desmond Bowen CB CMG

Mr Bowen is appointed Trustee with effect from 22 December 2017.

Mr Bowen was a civil servant from fast stream entry in 1973 until 2008 when he retired from the position of Director General for Security Policy at the Ministry of Defence. During his career he served as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Paris, as Defence Counsellor in the UK delegation to the negotiation on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, as Director of the cabinet of the NATO Secretary General in Brussels, as Director General in the Cabinet Office running the overseas and defence secretariat. As an officer in the Parachute Regiment between 1970 and 1973 Mr Bowen served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and West Germany.

Since his retirement, Mr Bowen has been a member and Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s advisory board on disarmament matters; a visiting Professor at Reading University School of Politics and International Relations and Staff Counsellor of the UK intelligence and security agencies.

He is currently a mentor for the Royal College of Defence Studies twice-yearly strategic exercises and a consulting member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and team leader for their workshops on nuclear doctrine with India and Pakistan. In 2008 he was awarded the US Secretary of Defense Medal for outstanding public service.

Suzanne Nicholas

Ms Nicholas is appointed Trustee with effect from 1 January 2018.

Ms Nicholas is currently Director for Counter-Terrorism at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she has been in service since 1995. Her previous roles have included Head of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and Head of Counter Terrorism policy. Between 2009 and 2012 Ms Nicholas led teams responsible for delivery against national security objectives, including in preparation for the Olympic Games in London.

Prior to this she ran a research project for the British High Commission in Islamabad, presenting findings to the Home Office and FCO and spent a period of time in Jerusalem as Associate Producer of a BBC TV series on the Arab Israeli conflict.

Speech: There's a need for quicker progress on Ogoniland clean-up


More needs to be done to combat the devastating effects on clean air, water and agricultureGood morning everyone. I would like to thank the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People for inviting me to give a short goodwill address to mark the 26th anniversary of Ogoni Day. My name is Harriet Thompson, and I am the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria. I am delighted to be here with you to open this 3-day event to “highlight the importance of building better communities in critical times: social movement’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies”. In this day and age it is clear that violent protest is not the answer and I commend the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People for its longstanding promotion of non-violent advocacy. In the last year we have seen oil production levels rise as Federal Government and militant groups have engaged in dialogue to find a peaceful solution to the issues in the Niger Delta. Although progress has been slow and we would all like to see more achieved in 2018, this is a good example of how non-violent methods can achieve better, more sustainable solutions. Driving through part of Ogoniland as I approached the Birabi Memorial Grammer School I have been appalled at the level of degradation and environmental damage caused by oil pollution. The cost of pollution is enormous affecting health, livelihoods, the economy and therefore driving conflict. More needs to be done to ensure the devastating effects on clean air, water, farming and agriculture are combated. It is imperative that there is quicker progress on the Ogoniland clean-up this year, nearly 7 years after the UNEP report was published. As we move closer to the elections of 2019, we must do all that we can to ensure there is stability and to bring peace in this important region of Nigeria. In 2016, the UK’s then Minister for Africa visited Ogoniland and saw first-hand the devastating impact of pollution from the oil industry on local communities. We are pleased that one billion US dollars has been committed by the Federal Government and international oil companies for the Ogoniland cleanup. We hope that recent meetings on the issue will result in a concerted push to deliver a safe environment for the people living in Ogoniland now facing very difficult circumstances. We hope that efforts can be made to secure safe water to drink, cleaner air to breathe and better job opportunities. And we hope for better solutions to combat the damaging effects of oil bunkering and illegal refineries. In November last year the British High Commissioner and Heads of Mission from other Embassies met with the Minister for Environment and we were encouraged to be told that work on the cleanup is progressing. The mechanisms are now in place to ensure that when the cleanup does begin it has the maximum positive impact and that resources are used efficiently and effectively. The UK along with our partners look forward to work on the cleanup starting in the next few months, as promised by the Minister for Environment at our meeting. The UK stands ready to support in whatever way we can including providing technical support and supporting activity whic[...]

Press release: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's call with Rex Tillerson, 4 January 2018


The Foreign Secretary spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this afternoon about recent events in Iran, DPRK and the ongoing crises in Syria and Yemen.

The Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State had an in-depth constructive discussion on developments in Iran and the protests there. They agreed on the importance of the right of freedom of expression. They also agreed that human rights in Iran needed to be fully respected in handling the demonstrations and undertook to monitor the situation closely. The Foreign Secretary reiterated the UK’s ongoing commitment to the Iran nuclear deal and to working with our allies and partners to address Iran’s destabilising activities in the region.

On the crises in the Middle East, they discussed the importance of moving forward on a process aiming at a political settlement in Yemen and the need to reinvigorate the political process on Syria.

They also agreed to maintain the pressure on North Korea to end their illegal nuclear programme.

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News story: FCO Minister for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field visits Vietnam


The Foreign Office Minister for Asia and the Pacific arrives in Hanoi on Thursday 4 January.

During his visit, Mr Field will chair the 6th UK-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue together with the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son. They are expected to discuss a broad range of issues, including bilateral trade and investment; cooperation in education, science and innovation; the UK-Vietnam defence relationship; and global issues such as the illegal wildlife trade.

Minister Field will separately meet Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh to discuss regional security and human rights as well as UK-Vietnam trade and investment and post-Brexit relations.

The Minister will also have a meeting with Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan to discuss the illegal wildlife trade and the role which Vietnam can play to lead action in South East Asia and at the 2018 London Conference on IWT following the Hanoi IWT Conference in 2017

The Minister will visit the Hanoi Stock Exchange to promote UK financial services. He will also visit the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases to promote the UK’s research, innovation and education collaboration with Vietnam.

His programme will also include a visit to a bear rescue centre to witness first hand its work on combating the illegal wildlife trade, and where he will meet representatives of NGOs to talk about the upcoming 2018 illegal wildlife trade conference in London.

Minister Field said:

I am delighted to be here in Hanoi for the UK-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue, celebrating the forty fifth anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I hope this visit will help to deepen our already strong partnership and will identify areas for further cooperation.

There is much more we can do to work together in areas such as trade investment, defence links, research and innovation as well as important global issues such as combating serious and organised crime, the illegal wildlife trade and modern slavery

News story: Minister for Asia and Pacific Mark Field returns to Thailand for Strategic Dialogue


The Rt Hon. Mark Field MP, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Minister for Asia and Pacific, returned to Bangkok on 2nd January, following a previous visit in November 2017.

The Minister’s main focus, along with his Thai counterpart, His Excellency Mr Virasakdi Futrakul, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the third UK-Thailand Strategic Dialogue. They covered a wide range of topics including Brexit, trade and investment in Thailand, science and innovation, education and the illegal wildlife trade.

Minister Field said:

I am delighted to be back in Bangkok and to have the opportunity to meet my Thai counterpart for wide-ranging discussions. As Prime Minister Theresa May has said, the UK is a country that goes out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike, a great, global trading nation that is respected around the world.

Our relationship with Thailand is an important element of this, and spans a broad range of issues from bilateral trade and investment to regional security.

In Bangkok, Mr Field met with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha to deepen the UK-Thailand relationship and to explore opportunities to increase our bilateral trade and prosperity.

Mr Field also met the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, General Surasak Karnjanarat, to discuss how the UK and Thailand can cooperate on tackling the illegal wildlife trade and climate change.

Following his visit to Bangkok, Minister Field travelled to Hanoi in Vietnam.

Press release: British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson visits Kuwait


British Defence Secretary visits Kuwait and calls on His Highness the Amir and senior Kuwaiti officials.

Updated: Added translation

British Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson visits Kuwait today, Wednesday 3 January 2018, for the first time since his appointment in November 2017. During his visit he called on His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. He also called on the First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and congratulated him on his recent appointment.

This visit is an important opportunity to build on the excellent defence co-operation between the State of Kuwait and the United Kingdom as part of the close and cordial bilateral relations which exist between our two countries. The United Kingdom welcomes the important role which Kuwait is playing in the region. Kuwait is a key partner in the Counter-Daesh Coalition and a major humanitarian donor and as a mediator in regional disputes. Kuwait also joins the United Nations Security Council in 2018 to 2019.

Press release: Foreign Secretary statement on Iran


The Foreign Secretary has made the following statement on the protests in Iran.

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

The UK is watching events in Iran closely. We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this.

We also believe that, particularly as we enter the 70th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, people should be able to have freedom of expression and to demonstrate peacefully within the law.

We regret the loss of life that has occurred in the protests in Iran, and call on all concerned to refrain from violence and for international obligations on human rights to be observed.

Press release: The New Year's Honours list 2018


The New Year Honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.The list covers every nation in the UK. In Kirkwall, Orkney, Margaret Jamieson receives a BEM (British Empire Medal) for her support of local community projects through the Blue Door charity shop. In Falmouth, Cornwall, Geoffrey Evans receives an MBE for his wide-ranging contribution to the community, including over 40 years’ service as a local councillor. The list includes people who have given their lifetimes to supporting others. Among a wealth of people who have given sustained service to others, two recipients stand out for the length of their contribution. Both are 101 years old: Lt Col. Mordaunt Cohen receives an MBE for his services to Second World War education and Helena Jones receives a BEM for her services to young people and the community in Brecon, Powys. At 18 years old, Lucia Mee is the youngest person on the list. She receives a BEM for services to promoting public awareness about organ donation. Awards include a knighthood for author Michael Morpurgo, a damehood for businesswoman Vivian Hunt, a knighthood for musician Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr, a knighthood for singer-songwriter Barry Gibb, a damehood for dancer Darcey Bussell, a damehood for Cathy Warwick, outgoing Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, a damehood for microscopist Professor Pratibha Gai, a damehood for theatre producer Rosemary Squire, a CMG for former astronaut Helen Sharman, a CBE for author Jilly Cooper, a CBE for Head of Women’s Cricket Clare Connor, a CBE for DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis, a CBE for actor Hugh Laurie, a CBE for ex-British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, an OBE for PR consultant Lynne Franks, an OBE for England’s Women’s Cricket Team captain Heather Knight, an MBE for hip hop artist Richard Cowie aka Wiley, and an MBE for Paralympian athlete Stefanie Reid. Following the centenary year of the Order of the British Empire and the Order of the Companions of Honour, this honours list continues to demonstrate the breadth of service given by people from all backgrounds and ethnicities. In total 1,123 people have received an award: 981 candidates have been selected at BEM, MBE and OBE level: 318 at BEM, 452 at MBE and 211 at OBE 70% of the recipients are people who have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity 551 women are recognised in the List, representing 49% of the total 9.2% of the successful candidates come from a BAME background 5% of the successful candidates consider themselves to have a disability (under the Equality Act 2010) The centenary year of the Order of the Companions of Honour 2017 has marked the centenary of the Order of the Companion of Honour (CH). Following nine appointments in the Birthday Honours List 2017, the independent committees have now recommended author and historian Lady Antonia Fraser and broadcaster Melvyn, Lord Bragg of Wigton to join the Order. Together wit[...]

News story: UK government congratulates Liberian President-Elect


The Minister for Africa gave a statement on the Presidential run-off election in the Republic of Liberia.

The Minister for Africa, Rory Stewart said:

I congratulate President-Elect George Weah of the Republic of Liberia on his election success.

The Liberian people and political parties have shown commitment to the peaceful conduct of the electoral process with disputes settled using due process under the constitution. This is a milestone for Liberia’s democracy and sets an example for others to follow.

I also pay tribute to outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has steered the country towards peace for the last twelve years following decades of civil war.

The UK values its relationship with Liberia and looks forward to working with the new Administration.

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