• 12 months in Lebanon: ‘It can sometimes be hard to stay optimistic … but here’s why I do’

    12 months in Lebanon: ‘It can sometimes be hard to stay optimistic … but here’s why I do’0

    Skip to content Chris Rampling MBE
    British Ambassador to Lebanon
    Part of Digital Diplomacy FCO Travel Partners in Prosperity Shoulder to Shoulder UK in Lebanon
    20th September 2019 Beirut, Lebanon
    12 months in Lebanon: ‘It can sometimes be hard to stay optimistic … but here’s why I do’ This time last year was one of the highlights of my career – presenting Queen Elizabeth’s letter to President Aoun that nominated me as Ambassador. The anniversary has allowed reflection on the year: for Lebanon, and for the UK.
    My first 12 months in Lebanon has been remarkable. Rolls Royce and MEA signed our largest ever bilateral trade deal. I met the 10,000th Lebanese soldier trained by the UK, and one of the UK’s most modern naval frigates came to Beirut. We hosted the first official visit by a British Royal, and partnered with the National Library for a stunning celebration of the UK in Lebanon. I have seen the results of our sustained work with women in Parliament, on community policing in Beirut, ..

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  • Outstanding British food and drink in Vienna

    Outstanding British food and drink in Vienna0

    Skip to content Leigh Turner
    Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna
    Part of UK in Austria
    17th September 2019 Vienna, Austria
    Outstanding British food and drink in Vienna ‘You should try this English sparkling wine.’
    ‘Really? Is it any good?’
    ‘Try some. Make your own mind up.’
    ‘OK.’ (Long pause.) ‘Wow. Can I have a couple more glasses?’
    Our annual Queen’s Birthday Party at the residence in Vienna is not only one of the city’s hottest tickets (apologies, again, to all those we are not able to invite) but also a great opportunity to showcase some of the best food and drink on the planet.

    British food and drink exports are booming. In the first quarter of 2019 they were up 10.7% to £5.8 billion (EU: 9.9%, non-EU: 12.2%). Top products included whisky (up 19.2% by value); salmon (40.5%); chocolate (5.9%); cheese (15%); wine (19.7%) and gin (29.6%). Total food and drink exports in 2018 were £22.5 billion.
    ..

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  • Disarmament blog: the Conference on Disarmament in 2019

    Disarmament blog: the Conference on Disarmament in 20190

    Skip to content Aidan Liddle
    UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
    Part of Conference on Disarmament
    16th September 2019 Geneva, Switzerland
    Disarmament blog: the Conference on Disarmament in 2019 The Conference on Disarmament (CD) adopted its Annual Report to the UN General Assembly last week. Thanks to the skilful work of the sixth and final President for the year, Zimbabwean Ambassador Taonga Mushayavanhu, this was a quicker and much less fractious process than many of us were expecting. With that, a week ahead of schedule, the 2019 session of the CD came to a close.
    It’s difficult to feel anything other than disappointed with the CD’s work this year. As I wrote on this blog in March, the CD’s failure under our own Presidency to adopt a decision establishing Subsidiary Bodies and Special Coordinators meant that the momentum from the 2018 session was lost. And although the row over the legitimacy of the Venezuelan Presidency wasn’t as disruptive..

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  • Sudan: A New Dawn

    Sudan: A New Dawn0

    Skip to content Irfan Siddiq
    British Ambassador to Sudan
    4th September 2019 Khartoum, Sudan
    Sudan: A New Dawn Protestors took to the streets of Sudan in December 2018 calling passionately for change. Their persistence led in April 2019 to the removal of former President Bashir. But what followed was not civilian rule but a tense period of political negotiations and sometimes confrontation with the Transitional Military Council that assumed power. This period saw many ups and downs, with the massacre of so many innocent protestors on 3 June the worst point.
    But the vision and commitment of the Sudanese to building a new Sudan, civilian-led and based on the revolutionary slogan of “freedom, peace and justice” never wavered. Last month we eventually saw the conclusion of the transitional political agreement, the formation of a civilian majority Sovereign Council and the appointment of a civilian Prime Minister. These are momentous achievements. They will define the coming period in Sudan..

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  • Celebrating Sustainably at the British Ambassador’s Summer Party 20190

    Skip to content Robin Barnett
    Ambassador to Ireland, Dublin
    Part of #BeyondPlastic
    3rd September 2019 Dublin, Ireland
    Celebrating Sustainably at the British Ambassador’s Summer Party 2019 I am now back from my summer break. After three weeks in Poland and Austria, I took off from Vienna in 34 degree heat and landed back in Dublin, where the temperature was 15C. I knew I was home. But I was also aware that our summers are getting warmer and generally drier. While that is quite appealing at the seaside, it brings problems with it too.
    On Wednesday, I will be hosting my summer party. I hope everyone has fun. But our theme this year really matters too. It is ‘Celebrating Sustainably’. While Brexit is often the focus of the headline-writers, there is no question that climate change is THE biggest challenge facing the planet.
    It’s hard not to be daunted by the sheer scale of the threat to humanity. But seeing 16 year old Greta Thunberg arrive by boat in New York this week reminds me just ho..

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  • In praise of London’s parks

    In praise of London’s parks0

    Skip to content Paul Brummell
    Head of Soft Power and External Affairs Department, Communication Directorate
    3rd September 2019 London,UK
    In praise of London’s parks Brasilia’s City Park, named after Sarah Kubitschek, the spouse of the President responsible for the founding of the city in the late 1950s, covers an area of more than 900 acres. It has some impressive features, including modernist toilet blocks decorated with ceramic tiles from Brazilian master Athos Bulcao. I was intrigued to see that, courtesy of an organisation called Seminovos, promoting running among the over 50s, it also boasts its own anthem, entitled “Liberty”. Refrain: “Liberty, where do you live? I’m here, I live in the park.”
    While Brasilia’s City Park impresses for its size, I’ve found few urban parks around the world to rival the finest of London’s parks. Here’s my modest attempt at, if not quite a stirring anthem, at least a piece of poetry in their honour. It may perhaps be closer to McGonagall than Byron, ..

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