Permanent Secretary of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Head of Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service, Simon Fraser, visited Baghdad, Basra and Erbil between 3 and 6 October 2011.
Simon was accompanied on his visit by Additional Director of the Middle East and North Africa Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Jon Davies.
Simon worked in Baghdad in the 1980s, and the visit was an excellent opportunity for him to learn more about the new Iraq and its prospects for stability, economic growth and democracy. He met politicians, senior officials, businessmen, journalists and civil society activists from across Iraq’s political spectrum in all three cities.
Speaking in Baghdad, Simon said:
"I am delighted to see the progress the people and government of Iraq have made in recent years. Having lived in Baghdad nearly thirty years ago, it is clear that, though serious challenges remain, Iraqis should be very proud of what they have achieved. They should not shy away from engaging with the rest of the Arab world, and I look forward to Iraq playing a greater role in the region.
"I also look forward to Iraq making further progress along the road to democracy, and the creation of a society where the rights and needs of people are met regardless of ethnicity, sect or social status.
"I encourage stronger trade and commercial links between Iraq and the UK. Britain and Iraq have a long shared history, and I hope that the Iraqi people will be able to benefit from the experience of British companies in the reconstruction of their country."