I thought I may take this opportunity to highlight some of my recent work and visits I have undertaken in my role as Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for Asia and the Pacific during February and this early part of March. A profile of my ministerial work can be found on the gov.uk website by clicking here.
For some of the two week parliamentary recess in February, I was able to undertake a week long programme to the Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Australia on my first visit to the Pacific region since becoming Minister. Over the course of my trip, I had a wide range discussions with an array of ministers, officials and diplomats taking in all manner of matters including future trading relations, commerce, technology, the environment and other regional issues.
Later in the month, I attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting which covered Venezuela, the Middle East Peace Process, Moldova, Burma, Cambodia and the Maldives.
At the beginning of March I was in France to visit the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris for talks on the Asia region. This not only focused on the work the OECD carries out in the region more broadly but also looking at more specific challenges including Burma and North Korea. I was also able to discuss international energy priorities with International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol.
As you may have seen, I have also recently responded to an Urgent Question on the floor of the House and to a debate in Westminster Hall on the matters of the International Development Committee’s applications for visas to travel to Burma and on Freedom of Religion and Belief respectively. You can find transcripts of the debates on Hansard and on the related articles on my website.
I hope that this update is useful in summarising some of the work I have been engaged in in my ministerial capacity over the past few weeks and I will continue to post further such updates in the future.