LONDON — Britain needs a radical diplomatic shake-up and will move scores of staff from Europe to developing countries, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday.
Miliband said staff will increasingly be based outside of traditional embassies — many working as "laptop diplomats" — and will focus on combating climate change, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
Britain's "future footprint is likely to be heavier in the developing world and in some of the most far-flung, difficult and important places," Miliband told a private meeting of ambassadors and diplomats based in 160 countries.
"We've decided to move some of our policy staff out of Europe and into Asia, the Middle East and other parts of the world," Miliband said, according to a text of his speech.
While the world's balance of power is moving from West to East, some have overstated the decline of the United States as the world's superpower, he told the audience.
"In economic terms, and even more so in military terms, the U.S. will have at least another generation as the global superpower," Miliband said. "Nevertheless, this century may come to be known as the Asian century."
Miliband said the United States remains Britain's most important ally, but he acknowledged that links with a host of other countries are becoming increasingly important.
"On climate change, South Africa, Japan and Saudi Arabia will be crucial to getting an ambitious global deal,'' Miliband said. "On counterterrorism, Pakistan is a critical day-to-day partner. On a global trade deal, Europe needs Brazil's support."