Leading article: Citizens of the world, united

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When we think of London statuary, it's the great national figures who come to mind: Winston Churchill in Parliament Square; Lord Nelson and King Charles I in Trafalgar Square; Robert Falcon Scott just the other side of Admiralty Arch.

But explore a little more deeply and it is revealing just how many famous overseas names have been thus honoured in the capital. Tucked away on the busy Euston Road – a not entirely appropriate location – is a bust of John F Kennedy. Jawaharlal Nehru is more at home in the Aldwych, close by the Indian High Commission. Elsewhere can be found such diverse figures as Nelson Mandela, Marshal Foch, Christopher Columbus, Simon Bolivar, and Mozart. Now the first man in space – Yuri Gagarin – is to join the list.

The Soviet cosmonaut's pioneering flight took place in April 1961; three months later, in a spirit of workers' unity that in those days actually meant something, Gagarin was in Manchester, meeting members of the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers. And now, 50 years on from his visit to the UK, a statue of Gagarin is to take its place in the Mall.

That London offers cuisine from all over the world is often cited as proof of its cosmopolitanism. But it's the statues that also make it a world city.

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