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Sir Peter Westmacott Headshot

An Honour and a Privilege: Serving at the Heart of the Special Relationship

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It is an immense privilege to return to Washington as British Ambassador, and a great honour to serve at the heart of a relationship that is not just special, but -- as our respective leaders have said -- essential.

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I begin my assignment this week at the start of what will be a very exciting year for both the United States and the United Kingdom. Front pages and talk shows here are filled with coverage of November's impending elections. Back in London, preparations are well underway for the celebration of Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and for this summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games. As hundreds of thousands of athletes and spectators arrive in London, we look forward to showcasing all that Britain has to offer tourists and businessmen alike, and to attracting new investments to create a legacy of prosperity that will endure long after the Games have concluded.


I last served here from 1993 to 1997, as Counsellor for Political and Public Affairs. Much has changed since then. The Internet has grown from a novelty to an ever-present necessity for communication and commerce. 24 hour news cycles have dramatically shortened response times while increasing the speed at which stories -- good and bad -- travel round the world. China's share of the global economy has tripled. Our hope for a permanent post-Soviet peace has given way to a permanent vigilance against unpredictable acts of terrorism and extremism.


Through those changes, the strength, closeness and primacy of our special relations have endured, under-pinned by our intertwined interests, our common history and our shared values of human dignity and individual liberty.


I have great confidence in our shared future -- confidence that comes from knowing that Britain and America remain steadfast and indispensable partners, and that both countries possess the inner resolve that is so essential when times are tough -- as they are today. We are each other's largest investors and foreign employers. The trillion dollars we have invested in one another's economies supports nearly one million jobs on each side of the Atlantic. President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron described our incomparable economic partnership best: "We have proud traditions of out-innovating and out-building the rest of the world -- and of doing it together."


Over the last hundred years, our armed forces have fought fascism, communism and now the forces of terrorism and religious bigotry. Nowhere has the courage of our servicemen been more vital over the past decade than in Afghanistan. We continue our work -- along with our many allies and in support of the Afghan people -- to build an Afghanistan which is able to maintain its own security and prevent the return of terrorist groups.


I am honoured that, as my country's 48th envoy to Washington, I will have the chance to play my own modest part in upholding the British-American partnership that promotes our values, common prosperity and mutual security.