Welcome to my blog. I may write copy here that I would not present elsewhere. This blog allows me to comment while reporting for clients which can include subscription-only platforms. I use it to take a sideways look at running stories, and all views presented here are my own.

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Friday, 13 May 2011

Tea and biscuits with the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Indian National Congress party

Dr Karan Singh, from the former royal family of Jammu and Kashmir,met with a small number of Indian journalists in London Friday May 13 2011 for tea and a chat in the Nehru Centre, belonging to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (the arts wing of the Indian government). He was frank, honest and jovial, and broke into Urdu poetry occasionally. India's former ambassador to Unesco, member of the Indian parliament's upper house, was candid on the results of state elections today ("I'm very happy with the result") and his heartbreak over young people killed in Jammu and Kashmir in 2010 ("perhaps the police could use rubber bullets or some kind of gas")Indian foreign policy, the death of Bin Laden and corruption. He was charming all the way through, answered all questions, and after finding out how many Indian journos there were in London, remarked that there were only two in Paris compared to 100 Chinese.

He has revived the concept of cultural diplomacy through Festivals of India started by Indira Gandhi. There have over the last few years been Festivals with Japan, Russia, China and France.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Britain developing stronger international ties- has the empire really vanished?

Today we learn that the Foreign and Commonwealth office is increasing its diplomatic representation in specific countries.

"This means increasing the FCO’s presence in the major emerging powers such as China and India. We will have 80 more staff in the biggest and fastest growing cities and regions of these countries. There will be a substantial expansion of our diplomatic strengthen in Brazil, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia as well as additional diplomatic staff in a host of other countries."

The FCO will open five new Embassies in El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, South Sudan and, when local conditions permit, in Madagascar and Somalia. Right now the FCO has 140 Embassies and High Commissions around the world.

The Foreign Secretary said:

“We will embark on a substantial reinvigoration of the diplomatic network to make it ready for the 21st century; to expand our connections with the emerging powers of the world, and to signal that where Britain was retreating it is now advancing.

“The only way to increase our national prosperity and secure our growth for our economy is through trade, and our Embassies play a vital role in supporting British business.

“Our decisions mean that our reach when British companies need assistance or British nationals are in danger goes further and is stronger.”

The FCO says that it will withdraw some diplomatic staff from "European subordinate posts"

For the above, read, "we need to rethink ways of making money in the new world order, we no longer have our empire, we now need to do serious business fast and bigtime with the power players to retain legitimacy."

British Royal Navy begins exercise around Cyprus

Seven Royal Navy warships with Royal Marines and helicopters, will converge on waters off the British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus this week for a series of long-planned naval exercises designed to demonstrate the versatile capabilities and high readiness of the Response Force Task Group (RFTG).

Exercise Cypriot Lion combines air defence exercises and live firings out at sea with amphibious exercises in coastal waters involving Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade.

It will be the first major exercise of the complete RFTG in the Cougar 11 deployment.

Three ships, HMS Albion, HMS Sutherland and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Cardigan Bay, left the UK with elements of the commando force at the beginning of April and were in Cyprus last month for a series of amphibious exercises. For Exercise Cypriot Lion, they will be joined by a second group of ships – the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, landing ship RFA Mounts Bay, fast fleet tanker RFA Wave Knight and supply ship RFA Fort Rosalie.

In addition to 40 Commando Royal Marines and elements of 3 Cdo Brigade Headquarters, the Task Group also includes marines from the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps, with whom the UK has a long standing association. Both countries have a history of cooperation in the field of amphibious warfare that dates back to the siege of Gibraltar in 1704 and was cemented through the creation of a joint UK-Netherlands-Landing Force in 1973.

Commodore John Kingwell, Commander UK Task Force (COMUKTG) said:

“The Response Force Task Group enables the Royal Navy to respond at short notice to unforeseen events in an unpredictable and fast moving world”

“Naval forces are ideally placed to respond to a range of missions central to UK defence and security. The involvement of marines from the Netherlands underlines the role that the RFTG can play alongside our international partners in support of wider maritime security and regional stability.”

Colonel Haydn White, Deputy Commander, 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, added:

“For the second time in the Cougar 11 deployment, the support of British Forces Cyprus has been invaluable in providing realistic and innovative training scenarios, whether at sea, along the shore, in the harbour and on land”.

“Cypriot Lion is the ideal opportunity for Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade to exercise their core amphibious skills”.

Are the British becoming conscious about the American Navy Seals grabbing all the attention recently?

Monday, 9 May 2011

New British High Commissioner to India announced

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has announced that Mr James Bevan KMG will replace Sir Richard Stagg KCMG in Delhi in November 2011.

He has been the Chief Operating Officer and Director General for Corporate Affairs at the FCO since 2007, and before that he was a visiting fellow at the centre for international affairs at Harvard University.
He has been a secretary in Paris, Washington and in Brussels, where he was with the UK delegation to NATO.

At the FCO, he headed up departments for Africa, the Balkans, and the European Union.
He goes to Delhi at a time when the former imperial masters have more to gain, arguably, from the ex-colony than the other way around.