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I don’t think that diplomats are meant to sell widgets – that isn’t their function – or to know about the intricate details of how widgets are made and what they measure. What diplomats are meant to do is generally create, promote, foster the environment in which British exports are likely to be successfully achieved and specifically to press, pursue, and promote individual contracts when these are at stake. A lot of diplomacy is not about that; it’s about representing Britain in a much wider sense, a lot of which incidentally is extremely dull. It is about protecting British citizens. It’s about, in poor countries, promoting development assistance. I don’t myself think that businessmen are likely to find it a very comfortable environment in which to operate.
Sir David Gore-Booth
Former British Ambassador to India
from the British Diplomatic Oral History Project | 1999
David Alwyn Gore-Booth, diplomat and banker (1943- 2004)