Dominic AsquithHMA, Cairo
One in three countries falls back into conflict within five years of a peace deal. The human suffering is immense. The effect on regional stability is severe. The demands that this places on peace-keeping will become unsustainable. The UN Secretary General will shortly issue a report on peacebuilding. To turn his vision into a reality, international and regional organisations, individual states and people with experience need to work together. Egypt has something to offer, because it runs a regional centre for training, peace-keeping and conflict resolution in Africa.
Following immediately on Mr McConnell, is the Foreign Office Minister, Bill Rammell. He will want to discuss with the Egyptian government three of the most important challenges we face together – confronting the terrorist threat, how we can coordinate more effectively handling the risk of nuclear proliferation and the contribution Britian can make to Egyptian efforts to increase the skills of the workforce here.
While he is here, I hope he will have time to attend a seminar we are organising with a British company CQL on deveoping skills to increase people’s employability. This is a subject close to his heart, in his current job, and in his former role as Minister for Lifelong Learning. Investing in the skills of the workforce empowers people, supports national prosperity, and improves lives for generations to come. People’s life chances are transformed by education, and so are those of their children. As the biggest foreign investor in Egypt, Britain is a natural partner when it comes to investing in the skills of the workforce.
He has also asked to meet some of the nearly 1000 Chevening scholars we have sent over the years to universities in Britain, to hear from them direct about their experiences, how that period of study has helped them in their careers and in their role in explaining both Egypt to people in Britain and Britain to Egyptians.
However well one knows a country or a region of the world, you have to keep coming back to meet the people who live and listen to what they are saying. Our visitors always leave Egypt with a more subtle understanding of the problems and a clearer idea of how the two countries can work together – but even more importantly, why it is important they should.
20 May 2009