Foreign Office makes diplomatic push with string of new embassies

New British embassies are to be opened in El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Somalia and Southern Sudan as part of a radical redrawing of Britain's international diplomatic map.

The Foreign Secretary will use the first anniversary of the Coalition Government today to outline what he termed "the biggest strategic diplomatic advance by Britain in decades". He revealed details yesterday to a meeting in London of hundreds of British ambassadors and high commissioners, who were told of major changes to their network of embassies and consulates abroad.

The new strategy, announced in the Commons today, will be partly funded by projected cuts of £100m from running costs and another £40m from the budget for Foreign Office and British Council programmes. The initiative will include additional staff being sent to the emerging powers as well as the "Arab Spring" states of the Middle East and opening embassies in Africa, central Asia and Latin America.

Consulates will be shut in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Foreign Office sources insisted consular services in those countries can be provided by embassies and trade offices would operate from business centres.

Further savings are expected from Afghanistan – with the handover of security to the Karzai government starting in July, the numbers of staff can be scaled back.

Among the locations for new embassies, El Salvador has been chosen for its relatively healthy economy and "friendliness" towards Britain; Turkmenistan has its mineral wealth and a strategic position in a volatile region; and Southern Sudan recently seceded from Khartoum.

The UK will also establish a presence in Madagascar, which is on a democratic path, possesses untapped natural resources and a growing tourist industry; and Somalia, which has become a violent centre of Islamist insurgency. Plans to open an embassy in Mogadishu depend on security improving.

Missions in the Middle East and north Africa, such as Tunisia, will have enlarged missions. The embassy in Tripoli will be enlarged if and when Muammar Gaddafi departs. Britain has a team of 20 diplomatic and military personnel in Benghazi, where the opposition administration is based, and this, too, is expected to be augmented.

The overthrow of dictatorships in some Arab states and the emergence of pro-democratic movements has opened up political and commercial opportunities.

Around 50 additional staff will be sent to China and 30 to India. The Foreign Secretary is expected to tell MPs that it is essential for the UK to keep bolstering relations with the two countries and there will be a focus on dialogue relating to trade, terrorist threats and the environment.

Mr Hague told diplomats yesterday: "We want to promote the long-term interests of Britain as well as to make the right decisions about immediate challenges, and we want to extend and strengthen Britain's influence overseas... By 2015 we must aim to be a Foreign Office that is lean and efficient but configured to match the realities of the 21st century."

Senior diplomats who attended yesterday's meeting broadly agreed that cutbacks in some areas were inevitable if the Government wanted to carry out a diplomatic drive in economically straitened times.

However, one senior official warned: "We are told that a lot of this is based on being in place to plug into the geopolitical landscape of the future. But what has happened, especially in the Arab world, shows it is extremely difficult to predict what can happen in the short term let alone the long term. We are seeing very much a shifting scene."

Suggested Topics
News
David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Life and Style
Jourdan Dunn gave TopShop’s Unique show some added glamour at London Fashion Week
fashion week
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experience...

Higher Level Teaching Assistants in Bradford and West Leeds

£65 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently seeking Higher L...

EYP

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Job opportunity for an Early years ...

QA Manual Tester - Agile

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories