'BRITAIN'S FUTURE IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED WITH EUROPE'
In a speech at the opening of the European Research Institute in Birmingham, on 23 November, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, emphasised that Britain’s national interest lies as a wholehearted player in Europe. He looked at the history of Britain’s post-war policy towards Europe, and described it as 'a history of opportunities missed in the name of illusions'. He said that the task of the Government now was to redraw the vision of Europe and ensure that it continues to succeed with Britain having a key role in that success. He highlighted the Government’s aim 'to be fully engaged in a united Europe, working with an internationalist USA' and made it clear that the policy on a single currency is unchanged. He emphasised that euroscepticism is totally contrary to Britain’s true national interests and concluded by saying that 'a stronger Britain is a stronger Europe in the 21st Century'.
‘COOPERATION BETWEEN THE UK AND PAKISTAN’
The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, gave a joint press conference in Islamabad on 23 November with the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Abdul Sattar. They discussed the military and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, particularly in Kunduz and Kandahar. They also discussed the meeting in Bonn and the introduction of a broad-based multi-ethnic civil administration as a precursor to a more permanent government. Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran were also on the agenda, as well as the economic development of Pakistan. The Foreign Secretary emphasised the UK's aid to Pakistan, which is scaled over a three year period so that the UK can get more involved in the country in the medium term.
‘TRADE AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN LATIN AMERICA’
FCO Minister for Trade, Baroness Symons, made a speech on 23 November at Canning House on trade opportunities with Latin America. She discussed her visit, accompanying the Prime Minister, to Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, and emphasised the importance of tackling terror with trade following the September 11 attacks. She concluded that renewed levels of contact between the UK and Latin America should 'help increase our business presence in the region', and added, 'It is time to look at carefully focussed work to ensure that the opportunities that do exist, and which play to UK strengths, are not missed'.
‘THE UK’S APPROACH TO THE EURO’
FCO Minister for Europe, Peter Hain, gave an interview for BBC Radio 4 on 23 November on Britain's approach to joining the single currency. He said Britain would 'pay a very heavy price if we rule it out forever'. Mr Hain said on the timing, 'It’ll be set according to whether the economic circumstances are right. Whether it’s good for our stability, good for our jobs, good for our investment and so on, but the main point here is the euro is coming'. He added that a date cannot be set and said, 'We’ve got to take this step by step', but added 'It isn’t right for us to join now'. The Europe Minister emphasised the gains to be made in joining the euro, of the 'strength by banding together with others in a huge block and gaining the common strength and the co-operation that that brings, resisting external pressures across the world'.
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