Britain planning ‘diplomatic surge’ in Mideast, S. Asia: minister

LONDON, Jan 6, 2008 (AFP) – Britain is planning a “diplomatic surge” in the Middle East and south Asia to help counter extremism and nuclear proliferation, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in an article published Sunday. Writing in The Sunday Times, Miliband said 2008 would “show in word and deed” what Prime Minister Gordon Brown meant when he described his government’s approach to world affairs as one of “hard-headed internationalism”.

“We plan a diplomatic surge in the Middle East and south Asia by raising the number of staff by 30 percent,” he said.

“That means we can deepen our engagement with Pakistan to prevent the growth of extremism there, including by spending an extra 80 million pounds (107 million euros, 158 million dollars) on counter-radicalisation.”

Miliband said the Foreign Office would prioritise work on conflict prevention, with greater co-ordination between international development officials and the military, particularly in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Britain would also up its work in areas like combating climate change and seek to increase the effectiveness of international institutions like the European Union and the United Nations, he added.

The Foreign Office played