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Foreign Office: Slavery reparations 'not the answer'

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has said reparations to Caribbean countries for the legacy of the slave trade are "not the answer".

An FCO spokesperson told ITV News that the Government sees slavery as "amongst the most dishonourable and abhorrent chapters in the history of humanity.

But they were clear the Government was opposed to reparation payments, saying:

“We do not see reparations as the answer. Instead, we should concentrate on identifying ways forward with a focus on the shared global challenges that face our countries in the twenty-first century.”

FCO: Argentina claims on Falklands 'wholly false'

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman has issued a firm rebuttal of Argentinian claims that military exercises on the Falklands amount to "provocation".

Argentine claims that we are 'militarising' the South Atlantic are wholly false. UK forces numbers have declined to the minimum necessary to defend the Islands.

Argentina's suggestion that the UK is seeking to threaten militarily either Argentina itself or the wider region is entirely without foundation, as is the suggestion that we deploy nuclear weapons in the region.

These are routine exercises in the Falkland Islands that have happened approximately twice a year for many years

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Spanish ships in Gibraltar 'unlawful' and 'dangerous'

The Spanish ships which entered British waters off Gibraltar acted in an "unlawful" and "dangerous" way, the Foreign Office has said.

Europe minister David Lidington has condemned the incursion by two Spanish vessels into British waters off Gibraltar Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

"Not only were the actions of the survey vessel unlawful, but it was accompanied by a Spanish Guardia Civil vessel whose dangerous manoeuvring presented a significant safety concern on the waters," Europe minister David Lidington said.

Gibraltar incursion 'violation of UK sovereignty'

The incursion by a Spanish ship into British waters off Gibraltar is "provocative", "unlawful" and "a violation of our sovereignty", the Europe minister David Lidington has said.

David Lidington was speaking after a Spanish state research trip entered British waters along with a vessel belonging to the Guardia Civil, the part of Spain's police force responsible for protecting the coastline.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the waters around Gibraltar are indisputably British territorial waters, under United Kingdom sovereignty, in which only the United Kingdom has the right to exercise jurisdiction.

Her Majesty's Government takes a grave view of any attempt by Spain to exert authority or control within British Gibraltar territorial waters and considers such incursions as a violation of our sovereignty.

I strongly condemn this provocative incursion and urge the Spanish government to ensure that it is not repeated.

Foreign Office advises tourists to stay indoors in Cairo

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice in light of recent bombings in Egypt surrounding the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising:

25 January is the 3rd anniversary of the 2011 revolution. A number of groups have called for demonstrations to mark the anniversary.

Protests and disruption to travel around the country are likely in the days before and after 25 January.

You are strongly advised to stay inside during this period in Cairo.

Across the country you are also advised to take particular care in the vicinity of government buildings, and to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings.

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Foreign Office 'on track to miss staff reduction target'

Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has said that the Foreign Office is not on track to cut the number of UK-based staff by 10% by the original target of 2015.

It's actually had to increase staff in order to cope with policy demands, and it's not on track to meet its target of a 10% headcount reduction in UK-based staff by 2015.

What we're saying is: be realistic, live within your means, and make sure that priorities are clearly defined.

– Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman, Foreign Affairs Select Committee

But MPs concluded that it was on course to make savings totalling approximately £170 million over the Spending Review period to 2014/15.

Foreign Office is 'being stretched almost to the limit'

There are signs that the FCO is being stretched, almost to the limit. One of the symptoms is the prospect that the department will need an extra year to meet its target of a 10% headcount reduction in UK-based staff, largely because of 'sustained pressure to deliver an ambitious policy agenda'.

We believe the department may be in danger of trying to do too much at a time when capacity is being limited. A more realistic approach by the department and by ministers is needed, as well as a clearer definition of priorities.

We conclude that in future the department will need to attach greater importance to living within its means and will need to recognise that there are limits to what it can take on.

– Foreign Affairs Select Committee report
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