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UK embassy in Madagascar to reopen

Britain will reopen its embassy in Madagascar within days, the Foreign Secretary has said, seven years after it was closed to save money.

William Hague said Timothy Smart will formally take up the ambassador post in Antananarivo this month and the embassy will be fully operational by March.

The British embassy in Madagascar was closed by the last Labour government in 2005 as part of sweeping changes to the diplomatic service which then foreign secretary Jack Straw said would save £6 million for other priorities, including fighting terrorism.

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Hague said: "Having a fully accredited British ambassador and embassy in Antananarivo will enable us to provide more effective systematic support to British business, a stronger trade and investment relationship with Madagascar, and full consular assistance to British residents and visitors.

"The resources of a full embassy will also allow us to work more effectively with the international community to support Madagascar's return to a fully recognised constitutional government after free and fair elections, as set out in the Southern African Development Community's roadmap."

Mr Hague said reopening the embassy would send a "strong signal" about Britain's interest in and engagement with Madagascar, its government and the wider region.

The move is part of a wider expansion of diplomatic efforts, which Mr Hague said would see 11 new embassies and eight consulates across the globe by 2015.

Since 2008, the Foreign Office operated a British Interests Section out of the German Embassy, which reported to Britain's High Commissioner in Mauritius.


From Belfast Telegraph