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Newsline: UK to re-open its embassy in Madagascar

Madagascar’s efforts to gain international recognition seem to be paying off with the report that UK will soon reopen its embassy in the country. New British embassies will be opened in El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Somalia and Southern Sudan as part of a radical redrawing ofBritain’s diplomatic map. The report says hundreds of British ambassadors and high commissioners held a meeting on Tuesday with the Foreign Secretary William Hague inLondon. He then revealed that this was the “biggest strategic diplomatic advance byBritainin decades” according to the report. “We want to promote the long-term interests ofBritainas well as to make the right decisions about immediate challenges, and we want to extend and strengthenBritain’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,” the paper quoted Mr Hague. Mr Brian Donaldson, the last UK ambassador to Antananarivo (2002-2005) told Africa Review that he was happy with the news. The retired diplomat still lives in Madagascar where he runs a charitable body known as Madagascar Development Fund to assist poor communities. The closure of theUKembassy inAntananarivooccurred under the Labour government of Mr Tony Blair that transferred the whole consulate service to the neighbouringMauritiusislands. Officials at the Malagasy Foreign Affairs Ministry declined to comment, saying they were yet to receive notice fromLondon. Moreover, the Malagasy embassy inLondon– serving the UK, Finland, Denmark, and Ireland– had been transferred toParisfollowing a decision taken by the national authority in January for economic reasons.

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