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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 17:10 GMT
Foreign Office focus turns East
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett
Margaret Beckett said diplomats should get wider recognition
UK diplomats are being moved out of Europe and into Pakistan and China as the Foreign Office adapts to a changing world, the foreign secretary says.

Margaret Beckett said "unglamorous diplomacy...is helping to safeguard the UK's security and prosperity."

She said that in five years the Foreign Office would be able to move staff more quickly, as priorities changed.

And she stressed that an international consensus was needed to tackle issues like terrorism and climate change.

Speaking at the new consular crisis centre within the Foreign Office's headquarters, Mrs Beckett said: "We must keep on adapting and upping our game."

We have to build truly international consensus which involves countries from across the political and economic spectrum
Margaret Beckett
Foreign Secretary

"We've moved people out of Europe and towards countries like China, India and Pakistan.

"In five years' time that trend will have continued. Our staff will always be at the leading edge of the international agenda, where they can add the most value."

She said: "There has never been a more difficult or more important time for foreign policy."

International issues such as global terrorism, nuclear proliferation, conflicts, illegal migration, organised crime, drug trafficking and climate change were "increasing both in their scale and in their potential to have an impact here in Britain".

Global action was needed to tackle them, and no country "however powerful could address them alone," Mrs Beckett said.

"And indeed even alliances among traditionally like-minded nations will only bring very limited results.

"We have to build truly international consensus which involves countries from across the political and economic spectrum."

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