British Foreign Secretary William Hague : "We are on the side of a stable democratic future for Egypt"

British Foreign Secretary William Hague

In an interview on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 on Sunday 6 February, Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke about the current situation in Egypt.

Feb 7 (KATAKAMI.COM / FCO.GOV.UK) —- Full transcript :


Andrew Marr: Well I am joined now by the Foreign Secretary William Hague. Welcome Mr Hague.
William Hague (Foreign Secretary): Thank you.

AM: Do you think that President Mubarak should go now?

WH: I don’t think that is for us in another country to say, we have the right to say a couple of things very clearly but I don’t think we have the right to choose Egypt’s President. I think where there is actual repression and where there has been abuse of the internet, trying to take over mobile phone networks, trying to drop concrete blocks on to protestors, there we are allowed to protest. Egypt is an independent country as the Minister there was just saying, but those things we are allowed to protest about anywhere in the world and it is a huge mistake by the authorities in Egypt to indulge in any of that sort of behaviour.

We’re also allowed to say that it’s in our interest to have a stable and democratic future for Egypt and we want Egyptians with different views to be able to sort out their views in a stable democratic way. It’s not our role to say the President must go on a particular day or this individual must be included in the Egyptian Cabinet, so I think we have to keep up the pressure for that orderly transition we’ve called for to visibly take place for people, the real visible and comprehensive change that will bring people together in Egypt.

AM: So what do you mean by transition?

WH: Well clearly there’s going to be a change in Egypt. The President has said he is, there is this huge pent up demand that we’ve seen that released on to the streets for political change and I think for economic change and improvement for the mass of the people in Egypt as well. Now that means getting to that point successfully, peacefully without violence or more disorder or more authoritarian Government, it means some mixture of a Government now in Egypt that is more broadly based, a review of the …

AM: …the Americans for instance are talking about a three headed provisional Government to take over …

WH: Again I don’t think it is for us in other countries the United States or Britain, to lay down the detail …we can’t lay down or enforce the details. Egypt is a sovereign nation. But what does an orderly transition look like, it looks like some mixture of a more broadly based Government that includes people from outside the ruling elite of recent years, an ability to change their constitution so that people can have confidence in a free and fair electoral process that doesn’t necessarily rely on the Parliament of today changing the constitution. It is eighty four per cent dominated by the ruling party.

AM: So …

WH: A clear timetable for elections and change which …

AM: Which could, which could leave Mubarak there until September, that would be all right.

WH: Again, you’re inviting me to arbitrate on when the President should be there…

AM: You see I mean people will say basically are you on the side of the people who are protesting or are you on the side of the Government.  That’s what people are asking.

WH: And we are on the side of a stable democratic future for Egypt. We’re not an Egyptian political party.  We are a country and so the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, we’re all in the same position on this, we want to see those sorts of changes so that Egypt doesn’t fall in to extremism or greater violence or more authoritarian Government.  But we cannot arbitrate on the daily events of that.

AM: So it’s, it’s not like, people have compared it to Eastern Europe when, when the wall was coming down and Governments in the West were able to jump up and down say this is great, we approve of this.  But you are not going to do that in the case of Egypt.

WH: Well it is a form of that because I think what we can say and should say is this is a time of opportunity in the Middle East. There are some important dangers as well and one of those of course is that the Middle East Peace Process becomes now a, a more uncertain matter. But it is, but it is a time of opportunity.

AM: Let me just ask you specifically about that, let me ask you about the peace process because that’s sort of to one side of all of this but it’s hugely connected to what happens to Egypt.

WH: It is huge and, and that is one of our central concerns in foreign policy that the Middle East Peace Process has in any case lost a lot of momentum in recent months …

AM: It’s stuck at the moment isn’t it?

WH: … we’ve been hugely disappointed by the failure of Israel to extend its settlement freeze.  It’s necessary for Israelis and Palestinians to make the compromises that, that are required to get the direct talks back on track.  It’s really necessary for the United States to continue to give strong leadership to the Middle East Peace Process supported by European countries at the same time.  That is an alarm, this comes together as a very alarming development if over the next few months the Middle East Peace Process runs in to the sand.  So I would urge Israelis, Palestinians and the US administration to redouble their efforts to get this back on track.  That, that what’s happening in Egypt shouldn’t be a distraction from the Middle East Peace Process, it underlines the urgency of carrying that forward.

AM: And is this therefore a very dangerous moment for the region?

WH: Well yes for that reason above all it is a dangerous moment, but here we’re coming back to your earlier question about we celebrated the fall of communism…

AM: Well I was going to ask you about the Muslim…

WH: … there is nevertheless of course in, in societies becoming freer and in political space opening up there is the prospect actually of a more stable future for many countries of the Middle East, but they need to be able to develop civil society, political parties, greater freedom of expression. The problem in Egypt is that those things haven’t been developed in recent years and so now they haven’t got an opposition, they haven’t got a strong democratic secular opposition to talk to, to come to an agreement about the future.

AM: To put it, to put it very bluntly, people have said in the past Mubarak may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard and there is a danger when he goes that the Muslim Brotherhood, this very, very long established radical Islamist movement in Egypt will take over. Is that really what underpins your caution?

WH: Well there is a danger of that and that is why it’s not so important when elections happen in Egypt as those elections happening at a time when the great variety of views that you can, that we’ve seen on the streets of Egypt can be properly expressed through political parties. Because if an election was held in Egypt today because they haven’t got the strong opposition democratic parties developed in order to play a real part in that.  So it, it’s the process of change over the coming months that matters more than the precise date of change and elections and that is also part of my answer to your question about, you know, should Mubarak go today, tomorrow or whenever, but it’s the process now that really matters.

AM: What about the Americans though because we’ve had rather astonishing newspaper front pages this morning.  We’ve got an American envoy saying definitely Mubarak is going to stay and should stay until September to manage the transition. And then we’ve had another message through the State Department saying no, no, no that’s not our position, we are talking to Mubarak’s number two and we’re talking about a transition before that.  Have you spoken to Hillary Clinton…

WH: Yes.

AM:  … do you understand, well can you explain to us what they’re up to?

WH:  Yes, yes I was talking to Hillary Clinton and the Prime Minister spoke to President Obama last night. They are in the same position as us, respecting the fact that Egypt is a sovereign country, but saying both in our public comments and in all our private discussions with Egyptian leaders that you are going to have to do more than you’ve done so far realistically looking at it from the outside in order to draw people in Egypt together. And, and we cannot …

AM:  … it’s not the case from your point of view, or from the Americans’ point of view that Mubarak should stay until September to oversee an orderly transition. That’s not the case.

WH: Well we’re not saying he should stay until September, nor are we saying he should resign today.  We’re saying we don’t decide who the President of Egypt is on any given day, but we can make the case for people to show, for the leaders in Egypt now to show that there’s an irrevocable change taking place. You know the reason why the demonstrators in the square in Cairo say Mubarak must go today is they want a sign of irrevocable change…

AM: Yes.

WH: …they want to know it’s not a con.

AM: Not unreasonably.

WH: That there is really something going to happen.

AM: Yeah, exactly.

WH: And, and it is vitally important for those, for the authorities in Egypt to show something is really going to happen through …

AM: But you’re not encouraging him to go.

WH: …so, well we’re saying through some combination of all the possible things that you could do to invite opposition figures in to Government, to review the constitution in a new way. Yes possibly to set up a new co presidency. There are all these options, you in Egypt decide which of those you are going to (indistinct) but you are going to have to do several of those things if you are going to show Egyptians and the world that their legitimate grievances will be responded to and, by the way, while you’re doing that avoid repression, harassment of journalists, abuse of the internet because these things are hugely damaging to Egypt and the wider world and they are wrong in principle. So that is the message of, of Western nations to Egypt and I think to go further than that is to interfere in the sovereign matters of Egypt, to not say as much as that would be not doing our duty to the people there and to our own national interests.

AM: There have been criticisms that the Foreign Office hasn’t been fast enough on its feet when it comes to British tourists in Egypt trying to get home.

WH: Well we’ve been very fast on our feet. We’ve had much greater presence at Cairo Airport than other countries.  As far as I’m aware everybody who has wanted to leave has been able to leave, we’ve chartered two special flights for that. So I’m not getting much criticism from the ground in Egypt. We haven’t changed the travel advice for the Red Sea resorts like Sharm el Sheikh because the situation on the ground there hasn’t changed.  So actually I would like to congratulate our Ambassador and the staff in Cairo who’ve dealt with a very difficult situation extremely well and assisted thousands of people successfully to leave the country.  (*)

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British Foreign Secretary comments on violence in Egypt

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague

Foreign Secretary William Hague said that real and visible change, needs to take place, and needs to begin now.

Feb 3 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — Speaking today on BBC Radio 4 the Foreign Secretary said:

“We want a stable and democratic country in Egypt, that’s what’s in the national interest of the United Kingdom. An orderly transition to a broadly based Government of free and fair elections, to real and visible change, needs to take place, and it needs to begin now so that they can work out those differences for themselves in a sovereign nation, having their arguments with each other but in a peaceful way. We continue to place the pressure on them to get on with that as rapidly as possible.”

On reports that the regime sponsored violence against protestors the Foreign Secretary said:

“I don’t have any evidence either way, but if it turns out that the regime in Egypt has in any way sponsored violence against peaceful protest that would be totally unacceptable. In the last hour I’ve spoken to the President’s son, Gamal Mubarak, on the telephone and said that if it turned out that there was state sponsored violence here that would be catastrophic for Egypt and for those who are in Government now.”

“We’ll continue to work with our partners in the EU and with the United States to try to push things in the right direction.”

(*)

 

British Foreign Secretary updates on situation in Egypt

William Hague

Jan 31 (KATAKAMI.COM / FCO.GOV.UK)  — Foreign Secretary William Hague has travelled to Brussels where he will discuss the situation in Egypt with EU Foreign Ministers.

The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. We recommend that British nationals without a pressing need to be in Cairo, Alexandria or Suez leave by commercial means where it is safe to do so.

The Foreign Secretary advised British nationals either in or considering travelling to Egypt to check the Foreign Office advice closely and keep in touch with tour operators. He said that the Red Sea resorts have been calm.

“We’ve heard from our Honorary Consul there this morning and the situation remains the same and remains calm, we’ve worked on contingency plans with the tour operators should the situation there change. The problems are much greater in Cairo and Alexandria and Suez. In particular there are problems getting people through Cairo Airport and so we have sent our own Rapid Deployment Team there. We have staff working very hard there to assist British nationals in an orderly and practical way to be able to leave the country.”

The Foreign Secretary said he was concerned that violence would continue over the next few days.

“We’ve stated those concerns to the Egyptian Government. We’ve asked them to avoid violence in dealing with demonstrations. Equally we call on the Egyptian people to demonstrate without resort to violence”.

On the international response, the Foreign Secretary said:

“We’ve been in close touch with our colleagues in the United States. The Prime Minister talked to President Obama and I talked to Secretary Clinton last night and together we have called for an orderly Egyptian led transition to real and visible reform, to a more broadly based Government, to free and fair elections in Egypt. This reform is the way forward – not repression – and I’m now on my way to Brussels to discuss all of this with the EU Foreign Ministers and hopefully to achieve an agreed position for the whole of the European Union, all twenty seven nations, similar to the one we’ve agreed with the United States.”

Earlier today Prime Minister David Cameron said Egypt “must go down the path of reform and not repression… we want the response of the Egyptian government to be… a proper, orderly transition to a more democratic situation where there are greater rights, greater freedoms, a better rule of law, and that sort of reform to show to people in Egypt that their concerns and their aspirations are being listened to… We are not saying who should run this country or that country, but… in the conversations we’ve had with President Mubarak and others, I think it’s sensible to say that you do have a choice here”.

He commented that the Egyptian government should explain to the people that “we hear your concerns, we understand your aspirations, we know you want greater rights, greater freedom, greater democracy, and we’re going to have an orderly transition in Egypt to give you that”.

Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt will be giving a statement to Parliament today at 15.30 (UK time). The statement can be viewed live on the Parliament website.

(*)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague visits Syria

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague

Jan 27 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Foreign Secretary William Hague will discuss a range of issues including the political situation in Lebanon, the current state of the Middle East Peace Process and Iran’s nuclear programme during his visit to Syria.

During the visit he will hold talks with President Assad and Foreign Minister Muallem. The Foreign Secretary will hold a roundtable with Elizabeth White, the British Council’s Director and senior Syrian women.

The Foreign Secretary will have dinner with key commercial, civil society and non official Syrian members of society.  (*)

Source : FCO.GOV.UK

British Foreign Secretary on protests in Egypt

William Hague

Jan 26 (KATAKAMI.COM / FCO.GOV.UK) — Foreign Secretary William Hague urges the Egyptian Government and demonstrators to seek a peaceful way forward.

“We deeply regret the loss of life in the Egyptian protests. All parties should show restraint and avoid violence. It is important that the government listens to the concerns of those demonstrating and respects rights of freedom of assembly and expression. Openness, transparency and political freedom are important tenets of stability. We urge the government and demonstrators to seek a peaceful way forward.

We have updated our travel advice for Egypt to reflect recent developments. This advises people to avoid political gatherings and demonstrations. We will be keeping the advice under constant review.”  (*)

Photo : British Foreign Secretary William Hague meets Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

In this handout provided by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague accompanies Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on a tour of The Churchill War Rooms on January 24, 2011 in London, England. During a meeting with his British counterpart, Lieberman responded to al-Jazeera's 'Palestine Papers', stating that extreme Muslim radicals, not Israel, was the biggest threat to the Palestinian Authority's leadership. Lieberman is on a three-day visit to the UK. Meanwhile, the UK said that William Hague stressed the British government’s commitment to a strong bilateral relationship with Israel. The UK, and the Foreign Secretary personally, sees Israel as a close friend of longstanding. The Foreign Secretary underlined the UK’s opposition to efforts to delegitimise Israel. They welcomed efforts to deepen economic and scientific co-operation between the UK and Israel, and confirmed that the next meeting of the UK/Israel Strategic Dialogue would take place in Jerusalem on 17 March. The Ministers discussed regional issues, including their shared determination to see a resolution to Iran’s nuclear programme to avoid an arms race in the Middle East. The Ministers’ discussions centred on the Middle East Peace Process. (Photo : GETTY IMAGES )

British Foreign Secretary William Hague urges rapid return to law and order in Tunisia

William Hague

Jan 15 (KATAKAMI.COM / FCO.GOV.UK) — Foreign Secretary William Hague calls for restraint from all sides and an orderly move towards free and fair elections.

“I condemn the violence and call on the Tunisian authorities to do all they can to resolve the situation peacefully.  I am calling for a rapid return to law and order, restraint from all sides, an orderly move towards free and fair elections and an immediate expansion of political freedoms in Tunisia.

Our Embassy in Tunis is providing help and assistance to the UK citizens affected. Britons worried about travel to Tunisia should check the FCO’s travel advice, which is kept under constant review.

Our advice to concerned British Nationals is to follow developments closely and stay in touch with their tour operator. They should respect advice or instructions given by the local security authorities and tour operators and avoid rallies and demonstrations.”  (*)

British to renew Australian defence ties

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague

 

Jan 14 (KATAKAMI.COM / THE AGE.COM.AU) — British Foreign Secretary William Hague says his nation has neglected its relationship with Australia during the past two decades.

Mr Hague will join UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox, as well as Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Stephen Smith, in Sydney next Tuesday for the third Australia-UK ministerial talks, known as AUKMIN.

It will be the first visit to Australia by British cabinet ministers since David Cameron’s government took office in May.

Mr Hague said on his video blog Britain needed a strong relationship with “dynamic economies” such as Australia and New Zealand, which will host the two ministers late next week.

But the previous Blair and Brown Labor governments had neglected the relationship, with the last foreign secretary to visit being Douglas Hurd in 1994.

“I will be the first (British) foreign secretary for nearly 20 years to go to Australia,” Mr Hague said.

“So I think there has been a little bit of ministerial neglect that we are going to put right.”

Mr Hague said his top priority was the mission in Afghanistan, which involves 9500 British and 1550 Australian troops.

“Right at the top of the list is our work in Afghanistan to improve security and hopefully to bring to Afghan leadership a political process alongside the military work to bring lasting security and stability,” he said.

The talks also will focus on three other issues: changing power dynamics in Asia, particularly China; strategic cooperation, including intelligence sharing, cyberspace and the relationship with the US; and global counter-terrorism.

There is also expected to be a discussion over lunch on national security structures, the Middle East and Iran and nuclear proliferation.

The meeting is not expected to approve a new cooperation treaty but a number of defence documents will be signed, sources close to the talks say.

It will be the first AUKMIN to be held in Australia, with the previous one held in Leeds in November 2008. (*)

 

British Foreign Secretary meets with Chinese Vice-Premier

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London, Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — Foreign Secretary William Hague met Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday evening as part of the Vice-Premier’s four day visit to the UK.

“It was a great pleasure to have welcomed Vice-Premier Li Keqiang to the UK following the Prime Minister’s invitation last year. Our discussions covered the full range of our interests, including trade and investment, the G20, Iran and DPRK. We also discussed human rights.

“This is an important time in the UK’s relationship with China. I am delighted that the Vice-Premier has had the opportunity to see first-hand the UK’s cutting-edge achievements in renewable energy technologies, low carbon solutions, and financial services.  I see this visit as another important step in cementing the UK and China as “Partners for Growth” and continuing to build our trade and investment relationship.”

Earlier in the visit Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg held bilateral talks with Vice-Premier Li and attended a signing ceremony where the two countries signed agreements with an estimated value of £2.6 billion.

Co-operation on conservation and culture were also on the agenda, with China agreeing to gift a breeding pair of giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo for ten years.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague "shocked" at the death of Governor of Punjab

FILE : William Hague

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January 05, 2011 (KATAKAMI / UK Embassy in Indonesia) — Foreign Secretary William Hague has spoken following the assassination of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab on 4 January.

“I am shocked to hear of the assassination of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, in Islamabad on 4 January. His death will be a loss to the leadership of Pakistan. On behalf of the British Government I send my condolences to Mr Taseer’s family, friends and colleagues.”   (*)

Foreign Secretary William Hague expresses UK concern following Belarus elections

Foreign Secretary William Hague

 

‘I urge the Belarusian authorities to ensure that all detainees are given access to adequate medical care and legal representation’

Dec 23, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — Following the Belarus Presidential elections and widespread reports of its conduct and its aftermath the Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“The UK Government has extremely serious concerns about the conduct of the Belarus Presidential election and the reports that the Belarusian authorities responded with excessive and apparently coordinated violence. Seven Presidential Candidates and over six hundred protesters were reported to have been arrested on the day of the election.

“I understand that the conditions in which detainees are being held are utterly unacceptable and designed to punish and intimidate. I am also extremely concerned at what appear to be forced recantations, broadcast on Belarusian state media, reminiscent of the show trials of a previous era.

“I therefore call on the Belarusian authorities to release immediately all those detained for politically motivated reasons as a matter of urgency. In particular, I call on the Belarusian authorities to make known the whereabouts of the opposition candidate Vladimir Neklyaev who was forcibly removed from intensive care in the early hours of Monday morning and whose location and wellbeing are still unknown.

“I urge the Belarusian authorities to ensure that all detainees are given access to adequate medical care and legal representation, and call on President Lukashenko and his government to engage in a dialogue with political parties, NGOs and civil society with a view to allowing them to fulfil their natural role in a democratic society.” (*)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague answers foreign policy questions on Twitter

William Hague

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December 16, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — Foreign Secretary William Hague answered questions about his first six months at the Foreign Office on 16 December via Twitter.

The following questions were put to the Foreign Secretary@WilliamJHague by using the hashtag #foreignoffice.

Q. @BackS00N: RT @cliffsull: #FOREIGNOFFICE -Mr Hague -would you tell us the Foreign Offices stance on Gary #Mckinnon plaese ? #freegary

A. @BackS00N @cliffsull Home Secretary is currently reviewing the Gary Mckinnon case

Q. @curiousc:@WilliamJHague How you feel #wikileaks impacts on the #opendata agenda in the UK ?

A. @curiousc I support internet freedom. But doesn’t extend to threatening national security by publishing illegally obtained documents

Q. @HKSkot1@WilliamJHague #foreignoffice was there anything in the Wikileaks material that was genuinely damaging rather than just mildly embarrassing?

A. @HKScot1 Wikileaks confuses need for transparency and accountability with irresponsible attempts to undermine government

Q.@citizen_sane: @WilliamJHague What impact do you think WikiLeaks will have on future UK diplomacy? #foreignoffice

A. @citizen_sane Important diplomats can advise candidly and in confidence. Ours do so and I want them to keep doing it.

Q. @tom5ash:@williamjhague Does defence cooperation with France undermine our relationship with the US or does it increase our influence? #foreignoffice

A. @tom5ash Treaty with France is about practical co-operation to increase military impact – doesnt replace Special Relationship

Q. @manatrue: #foreignoffice @WilliamJHague Are British courts not fit for purpose or is there another reason why #GaryMcKinnon is denied UK justice?

A. @manatrue @wildallison Mr Assange’s extradition is rightly a matter for the courts

Q.@FHxoxo: @WilliamJHague what is being improve relations btw UK and Burma, a member of ASEAN, now that Aung San Suu Kyi is free? #foreignoffice

A. @FHxoxo Her release was long overdue. 2,200 other political prisoners remain behind bars. More progress is needed.

Q. @JoeThorpe1963: @WilliamJHague #foreignoffice the only foreign policy anyone that interests people is when will we get a referendum on #EU membership?

A. @JoeThorpe1963 We had a vote after we first joined. Our EU Referendum lock guarentees a popular vote on any further shifts of power

Q. @KevReillyCom: Do u think Julian Assange has risked/claimed any UK lifes with leaks or are you worried of any UK based leaks? #foreignoffice @WilliamJHague

A. @KevReillyCom Leaks can damage national security, and put lives at risk. They are in no one’s interest

Q. @KevReillyCom: Do the #foreignoffice intend to use social media (thinking Twitter/Google Latitude type locations) with it’s LOCATE system? @WilliamJHague

A. @KevReillyCom We increasingly use social media for consular work & we are considering future options for LOCATE & public registration

Q. @si_smith: @WilliamJHague #foreignoffice William, is the unbalanced UK/US Extradition treaty going to be amended/changed/abandoned?

A. @si_smith We want to ensure that extradition is fair, balanced and in the interests of justice. Independent panel now reviewing

Q. @huwtaylor: @WilliamJHague Do you think that the European Arrest Warrants are being abused? #foreignoffice

A. @huwtaylor I do think there is a problem. The Home Office is reviewing how they work

Q. @benpopkid: @WilliamJHague when will you as foreign secretary make it easier for citizens such as myself to marry a non-EU resident?

A. @benpopkid This is a matter for the Home Office I am afraid. But I wish you all the best in your personal life

Q. @Pol_Hernanz: @williamjhague Your views please on European Citizens’ Initiative #ECI, now accepted by #EP. Will it have any actual impact? #foreignoffice

A. @Pol_Hernanz Important to increase connection between people and the EU. If European Citizens Initiative does this, then good thing

Q. @bilalhassam: Question @WilliamJHague #foreignoffice Israel defies international law in building settlements when wil UK do something beyond empty threats

A. @bilalhassam Settlements undermine peace efforts & are illegal. UK acting to help build capacity of future Palestinian state

Q. @greeneyespy: @WilliamJHague #foreignoffice questions: were the #Pakistan floods a result of #climatechange & how important #Brazil to #climate diplomacy?

A. @greeneyespy We’re seeing more extreme weather events across the world.Brazil is very important as is Mexico.They did a great job at Cancun

Q. @vickirowlands: @WilliamJHague What are you most proud of achieving/changing/doing since May 2010? #foreignoffice

A. @vickirowlands Starting to build the strategic relations Britain needs for the future and returning FCO to its proper place in government

Q. @WilliamJHague @UKinSriLanka #foreignoffice How would you describe how it has been to work on the relatship between the UK and Sri Lanka?

A. @johnfdrake Constructive meeting with FM Peiris in Oct. Called for lasting political settlement and inquiry on human rights abuses

Q. @MarkThomRees: @WilliamJHague Is Oil & Trade more important when dealing with countries than Human Rights, The Death Penalty & Gay Abuse? #ForeignOffice

A. @MarkThomRees No. Human rights are fundamental to this government – I am improving and strengthening our human rights work

Q. @WeLshRoGs: @WilliamJHague #foreignoffice How much did the foreign office pay for it’s Christmas trees? Has it taken a leaf from the Treasury?

A. @WeLshRoGs We spent nothing on Christmas trees in London!

Q. PeterCampbell1: @WilliamJHague who has been the most interesting person you’ve met so far? #foreignoffice

A. @Petercampbell1 The young Afghan students I talked to in Herat in July

Q. @mikebettison: @WilliamJHague you have a very interesting job but you never tweet anything remotely interesting. Why not? #foreignoffice

A. @mikebettison I suspect those two observations are linked

Q. @KevReillyCom: Do you see Radical Islam in general as more organised than on 9/11? (not necessarily under the brand Al-Qaeda) #foreignoffice @WilliamJHague

A. @KevReillyCom AQ less organised than pre-9.11 but still a deadly threat. We and our partners are committed to reducing it

Q. @lewieashman: @williamjhague what counter terrorism measures are in place to stop what happened in Sweden happen in the UK? #foreignoffice

A. @lewieashman All relevant organisations in UK working together to address threat posed by terrorism

Q. @Chanell 82: @WilliamJHague: what approach will the fco be taking to address corruption in africa’s elections and improve governance? #foreignoffice

A. @Chanell82 Improving governance and ensuring fair elections key part of our overseas aid and foreign policy

Q. @mattbjones: @WilliamJHague Has raising human rights concerns with foreign gov’s proved harder than you thought, given economic situation? #foreignoffice

A. @mattbjones No. Our diplomats and Ministers raise human rights cases week by week across the world and will continue to so.

(*)



British Foreign & Commonwealth Office : Afghanistan monthly progress report

FILE : Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (2nd R) smiles as he arrives at patrol base 2 between Lashkar Gah and Gereshk in Afghanistan December 6, 2010. Cameron, visiting Afghanistan on an unannounced trip, said troops could start withdrawing from the country as early as next year. Photograph taken December 6, 2010. REUTERS/ Leon Neal/Pool

December 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — The Foreign Secretary, on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, has published a progress report on developments in Afghanistan.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague):

I wish to inform the House that, today, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is publishing the first progress report on developments in Afghanistan, which I announced we would publish every month in my statement to the House on 27 October.

The report focuses on key developments during the month of November.

At the NATO Lisbon Summit, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s 48 contributing nations reaffirmed their enduring commitment to Afghanistan’s security and stability.  NATO and Afghanistan also agreed the framework of a long-term partnership that looks beyond the end of ISAF’s current mission.  The Summit set out the timetable for transition of lead responsibility for security from international to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Transition to Afghan lead security responsibility will be dependent on the conditions in each district and province.  It will see ISAF’s role evolve away from combat towards increased training, mentoring and support.  In Lisbon, ISAF partners joined the UK in pledging additional trainers to help Afghan security forces build capacity and prepare to assume lead responsibility for security, as set out at the Summit.

Pressure on the insurgency is increasing due to ISAF’s operations. The significant uplift in troop numbers has corresponded to an increase in military operations, particularly in those areas where insurgent activity is still strong, although this has not caused a significant increase in civilian casualties.

Progress continues to be made in developing the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, both of which are on track to meet the targets for trained soldiers and police officers, agreed at the London Conference in January this year, by November 2011. Investment continues in the training of both the army and the police, particularly their leadership.

The results of September’s Parliamentary elections were declared. Whilst by no means free of irregularities or fraud, they were broadly credible, given the circumstances. Approximately 60 percent of Parliamentarians are new to the National Assembly. Female candidates have done well. Both of the two seats in Nimroz Province were won by women – the first time any Afghan woman has won a seat not reserved for a female candidate.

The Afghan Government reported progress on the commitments made at the Kabul Conference in July on security, anti-corruption, human rights and public financial management.

An important example of the region’s commitment to supporting Afghanistan was the fourth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), held in Istanbul, Turkey on 2-3 November.  The UK was central to establishing the RECCA process in 2005, and this year funded the establishment of a Centre for Regional Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul.

A long awaited Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement was finally signed by Afghanistan and Pakistan on 29 October, enabling cargo trucks to reach Pakistani ports and the border with India.  This will provide a significant boost for Afghan trade.

I am placing the Report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the FCO website, and the HMG UK and Afghanistan website.   (*)

Ambassador Richard Holbrooke: British Foreign Secretary's message of condolence

FILE : British Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) talks with US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke prior to the start of a 'Friends of Democratic Pakistan' meeting on October 15,2010 at the EU headquarters in Brussels. Also attending the meeting of 26 countries and international institutions are a slew of foreign ministers and dignitaries, including US envoy for the region, Richard Holbrooke. Pakistan is ready to facilitate talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the interests of regional peace, the country's foreign minister said today. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

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December 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — Foreign Secretary’s message of condolence on the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

On learning of the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:“I learned with sadness of the death last night of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Ambassador Holbrooke was truly one of the best and the brightest of his generation. Whether as a young State Department officer in Vietnam or as Ambassador to Germany and the UN he has served his nation with distinction and integrity.

Ambassador Holbrooke made an enduring peace his goal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He conceived and led the 1995 Dayton Peace Process, bringing to a halt the most vicious conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War. In doing so, he exemplified the finest qualities of American and international diplomatic leadership. The principles he established in the Dayton/Paris Accords including on inter-ethnic balance, robust peace-keeping and of regional commitments are a model for others to follow. We will be vigilant in preserving the peace he secured.

Since I started in the job of Foreign Secretary, I have worked closely with Ambassador Holbrooke on Afghanistan and Pakistan where he has played a key role in establishing and developing the international contact group to support stability and peace in the region. His work will continue.

On behalf of the British Government and his many friends here in the UK I send my condolences to Ambassador Holbrooke’s family and to Secretary Clinton and the American people for this sad loss.”  (*)

 

British Foreign Secretary "disappointed" Israel has not renewed the freeze on settlement construction

William Hague

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Foreign Secretary William Hague said that settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.

December 12, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — The Foreign Secretary said:

I am disappointed that Israel has not renewed the freeze on settlement construction and that peace talks are currently on hold. It is Britain’s longstanding view that settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.

I spoke to US Envoy Senator Mitchell to underline Britain’s support for work to find a way forward. The leadership of the United States remains vital.

There is an urgent need for progress to secure a two state solution, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states and with a fair settlement for refugees. This is important for Israelis, for Palestinians and for the international community including the UK.

We will continue to work with the United States, the parties to the conflict and with our EU and UN partners to achieve a two state solution. In addition, we will continue to press for an end to all settlement activity.

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