"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Monday, March 31, 2008

"Dr" Howell in Doha says “devolved government” for Basra province is OK by him

On 10 February when Roddy Drummond, Chargé d'Affaires and Head of Mission in Doha, Qatar the spanking brand new Embassy opened its doors said he was "we are excited about the facilities the new Embassy offers" (photos)

Probably not as excited as when he met peripatetitic rentagob FCO Minister Dr Kim Howells arrived at the Embassy (between Aladdins's and Rainbow Roundabout) this weekend with the randy Duke of York in tow to inaugurate the mission which had moved after 45 years to what looks like a computer factory in West Bay.

Howell sensibly failed to mention the FCO funded new BBC Arabic service set up to compete with the Qatar funded al Jazeera (which had been set up with the staff sacked when they disbanded the OLD BBC Arab News service - nor did he mention they way the Qataris were such pals with Saddam Hussein whom we had strangled to death but whom they had given a personal Boeing 747.

However, always sensitive to local concerns, he launched into the pleasure that the UK Government had in seeing the opening of a Roman catholic church “This is a very significant step for Qatar, and a very encouraging one,” adding “Qatar is opening its doors to everyone.” Later at a Press conference he waded in further , “It is a very brave decision by the Qatari authorities, and one we are very pleased about.”

Although extensively covered by the British press they somehow missed his further remarks (or indeed his previous ones) about how inter-faith dialogue could help eradicate ignorance, which is “the biggest cause of fear of others’ religious beliefs.”

More sensibly he welcomed the expansion of the LNG projects in Qatar and the imminent arrival of Qatari gas at the Qatari owned LNG terminals at Milford Haven which will provide a (hugely expensive) stop gap for the UK. The UK will soon be reliant on Qatar for between 15 and 20% of its gas supply explained the Princely playboy at a luncheon held by the Qatar British Business Forum the same day.

Blundering on he launched into Palestine , the Middle East so called Peace process and the need for a cease fire and commitment to the Annapolis peace negotiations - carefully not suggesting that the Israelis stop building new settlements and expanding the current one's on the West Bank.

In a truly amazing departure from Coalition Policy he mused about Iraq and said the possibility of a “devolved government” for Basra province can be seriously considered as part of a solution to end the crisis, comparing such a solution to the devolution of government in the UK.

Well worth him collecting those air miles then.

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