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World's best diplomats[edit]

Britain's diplomats have been told to learn lessons from the French, if they are to become the best diplomatic service in the world.

It follows advice from an external panel of advisers who told the Foreign Office that France was the best at pushing its national interest. Top mandarin Simon Fraser told MPs France was known for supporting its economic and commercial interests. But he said the UK had already made significant progress in this area. Foreign Secretary William Hague has set the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) an objective of becoming the best diplomatic service in the world by 2015. As part of its attempts to achieve this, the FCO has convened an external panel of advisers, known as the Diplomatic Excellence External Panel, to assess the department's progress and to judge how it compares with diplomatic services around the world. The panel includes around 60 politicians, journalists and representatives from business and the NGO sector.