This week at the Foreign Office

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A look at the work of the Foreign Office and its embassies overseas this week.

This week marked the start of the UK’s Presidency of the UN Security Council. Foreign Secretary William Hague announced Sudan as the “highest priority” for the UK Presidency.

On Tuesday the UK and France opened a “new chapter” on defence cooperation when Prime Minister David Cameron signed treaties with French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledging to work closer together on Defence issues.

The Foreign Secretary met the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in London on Monday, before travelling to the middle east where he visited Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to encourage parties to take the steps needed to resume direct talks on the Middle East Peace Process.

Governor of Helmand Province Gulabuddin Mangal visited the UK this week. Throughout the visit he gave a first hand update on the campaign in Afghanistan. He met the Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Defence Secretary Liam Fox, hosted a media discussion on security and governance with Minister for Afghanistan Alistair Burt and paid tribute to UK troops at the Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Minister for Afghanistan Alistair Burt visited the base of 40 Commando Royal Marines in Taunton with Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne following the marines’ return from Afghanistan.

On Wednesday Minister for Europe David Lidington said “we want to see Albania making real progress towards EU membership” in a meeting with Albanian President Topi.

The first general election in Burma for more than 20 years takes place on Sunday 7 November. The Foreign Secretary issued a statement on the “flawed elections” and British Ambassador to Burma Andrew Heyn discussed the issues in his Guardian blog.

BBC World News Anchor Zainab Badawi talked about Freedom of expression in our latest “See Britain” film.

The British High Commission in Ghana wrote about their work on supporting Ghana’s fight against illegal migration.

Our Embassy in Uzbekistan covered the Head of the Diplomatic Service’s visit to the country this week.

In Travel News this week we covered changes to our travel advice for Turkey, the threat of kidnap in Mali and we continue to monitor Hurricane Tomas in the Caribbean.

This week’s featured blogger is John Duncan, Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control & Disarmament. In his latest blog he looks at the Oslo Treaty banning Cluster Munitions which came into force this week:

“The challenge of the Olso negotiations was that the UK was suspected because of our known dislike of taking negotiations outside the established UN framework. Many feared we had come to water down if not wreck the outcome they so passionately wanted. That this was not the case was only really accepted in the final hours of the negotiation.

And the final outcome more than justified the effort. Diplomacy is as I’ve commented before, fundamentally about people and the world is a better place for the existence of the Oslo Treaty and its predecessor the Ottawa Landmines Treaty, both of which banned weapons that injure innocent civilians such as Song Kosal, often long after a conflict has ended. I doubt I will forget the joy on the faces of the Cluster Munition’s survivors (below) when we succesfully concluded the Oslo negotiations in Dublin two years ago”