Diplomatic Briefing

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Commentary: UK embassies have better things to do

Gosh, were we mistaken! We thought tourist services at embassies involved serious matters such as replacing a lost passport … or giving advice should you find yourself mistakenly in jail in Tijuana on drug charges. It seems that tourists also expect embassies to help them find good restaurants and advise them on how to make romantic advances toward the locals. Who knew that embassy staff, far from dealing with grave matters such as diplomacy, were on hand merely to act as concierges? That’s apparently the case at British embassies, anyway. But, wait. British diplomats are complaining about this. Embassies are supposed to help tourists with emergencies, rather than with mundane wants and wishes. British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned U.K. citizens against making such requests to their embassies while vacationing in foreign lands. Frivolous requests only waste resources and make it tougher for staff to respond to true needs, he said. Britain has announced a stepped-up plan for dealing with tourist emergencies. Officials came in for criticism for chaotic efforts to evacuate U.K. nationals from Libya last year.



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