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British Foreign Secretary Urges Cooperation for Global Challenges


Britain's foreign secretary is urging the international community to work together to combat climate change and promote free trade. Margaret Beckett is on her first official visit to the United States since her appointment in May.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett says, in an increasingly interdependent world, nations' individual well-being cannot be separated from the health of the global community as a whole.

"In today's world, national security must be founded on strong international security, and be inspired by our values: fairness, justice, democracy," said Margaret Beckett.

Beckett, Britain's first female foreign secretary, was speaking at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

She said the rewards of collective action almost always outweigh those of individual or bilateral initiatives. She said this is particularly true when it comes to energy usage and climate change, both of which she argued have a major impact on national and international security.

Beckett pointed out that technologies designed to cut emissions of so-called "greenhouse" gases have the added bonus of reducing dependency on fossil fuels. But she said advanced industrialized nations will have to lead the way, if the world is to shift toward more environmentally-friendly forms of energy consumption.

"Most of the global warming to date has been caused by developed countries like our own," she said. "So, if we are going to convince developing countries to adopt these technologies, we ourselves all need to move in that direction."

Beckett said, in order to further the long-term well-being of the global community, individual nations must be willing to make sacrifices that may not appear to be in their immediate self-interest.

She said this is particularly true when it comes to international trade, and made an impassioned plea for a concerted effort to make sure that global trade talks do not end in failure.

"Allowing developing countries to trade their way out of poverty is the most effective route to rapid and sustainable growth," said Britain's foreign secretary. "But look at the situation today. Agricultural tariffs and subsidies reduce developing countries' earnings [from trade] by $75 billion a year - 50 percent more than they receive in aid. That is a tragedy for the world's poorest. They will pay the heaviest price. But it will be a cost to us [developed nations], too."

After her address, Beckett was asked if her criticism of unilateral action was aimed at the Bush administration, which pulled the United States out of the 1997 Kyoto treaty aimed at reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases.

The foreign secretary replied that she was simply stating her views and those of the British government.

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