DIPLOMACY IN THE INTERNET ERA….Talking Point is a “global interactive phone-in programme” from the BBC. Today they interviewed UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the show included this exchange:

Jack Straw:
….I may just say, by the way, that Secretary Powell turns out to be an avid fan of the BBC’s programmes and he noticed that he could e-mail me with a question…

Bridget Kendall:
On this programme?

Jack Straw:
For this programme and sent me an e-mail to say he’d been thinking about this but he decided otherwise.

Bridget Kendall:
Perhaps we should say to Mr Powell we would have been delighted to have your question.

That’s an out-of-the-box approach to foreign relations, isn’t it? I wonder if the idea of submitting questions to your overseas counterparts on radio chat shows will catch on?

On a more substantive note, Straw was asked if the June 30 handover in Iraq was merely symbolic. He said emphatically that it wasn’t and then added this about the disposition of troops:

The precise arrangements have yet to be worked out but everybody is clear that from the 30th June you then have an Iraqi sovereign government and it’s a matter for a sovereign government, wherever it is, including in Iraq, to decide whether or not, amongst many other things, foreign forces should be on its soil ? it’s their sovereign decision.

….If you’re asking me, as you are, at what point in this arrangement an Iraqi general will fit in with the US or the UK or other multinational force general I can’t give you that answer because final decisions have not been made.

Is this really the party line? That if the caretaker government proposed by Lakhdar Brahimi decides it wants an Iraqi general in charge, we’ll go along with it? Or if they decide we’re no longer welcome at all then we’ll just pack up and leave?

I wonder who they think they’re fooling with this?

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