UK envoy makes landfall

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(First Edition)

PARIS (Reuter) - Britain's new ambassador to France made history yesterday by becoming the first British envoy to take up his post travelling only by land.

Exchanging his diplomatic blue suit and feathered hat for overalls and rubber boots, Sir Christopher Mallaby travelled on a construction workers' train through the Channel Tunnel, which is due to open to public rail traffic next year.

'Impressionnant et agreable,' he said as he arrived at the French terminal at Sangatte. Sir Christopher arrived in Paris later in the evening. He told reporters the pounds 7.3bn tunnel was 'one of the wonders of the modern world', which would increase contact between Britain and France.

The idea of linking the two countries by tunnel was first mooted in the eighteenth century, but fears of an invasion by Napoleon led Britain to shelve the plans. Workers tunnelling from France and Britain made their first breakthrough in December 1990, when the two sides joined to form the first of three tunnels.

(Photograph omitted)