Thursday, December 25, 2008

British Middle East Attitude

Basil Eastwood interviewed:

MM: Had you decided at that stage that you wanted to specialise in the Middle East?

BE: Oh yes. I had made that decision rather by default when I decided that I was going to do Arabic at University. What actually happened was that, after I left school, I was one of the early VSOs and taught in a school in Lebanon outside Beirut, Brummana High School. It’s still there. It was a wonderful time in my life and I travelled around a bit; I got into Syria and down to Jerusalem - I spent Easter in Jerusalem in 1963 and was absolutely fascinated by the whole business of the Status Quo and the situation of the Holy Places and so on. And I went down to Petra and did all the things you could do in those days, but it was fairly rough and ready and very exciting. And so, when I went back up to University, my main instinct was to try and get back to that part of the world as quickly as I could.

I have to confess there was one other motive. There was a very old lady living up in the village who was a Quaker, an Arab called Faridi Akl. She had been a schoolteacher at the Friends’ School at Jbeil (Byblos) down on the coast, before the First World War, and had given Arabic lessons to a young Englishman who was going out in advance of a walking tour of the Crusader Castles in the Levant. His name was T E Lawrence. So I actually had the same Arabic teacher as T E Lawrence; she was a pretty awful teacher, I may say, dear old lady at that stage. Perhaps she was brilliant when she taught him, I don’t know! But it was a wonderful thing to capture the imagination of a young man.

MM: Did you feel that you were perhaps to some extent seduced by the Arabs, or by Arab culture?

BE: I think from a very early stage I had what I would call the traditional Foreign Office Arabist attitude towards the Arabs, which is a sort of despairing affection: they are always their own worst enemies and have a much better case than they ever get round to making. And, as it were, having been part of the background, particularly to the business with Israel, since the early 1960s when I first started learning about all this, because some of my friends in Brummana were Palestinian, clearly ...

MM: When you say Palestinian, do you mean Jewish or …

BE: No no - Arab. There were very few Jews still left in Beirut at that stage, but I didn’t know any of them. No, I mean I was certainly more aware than the average reader of a British newspaper would be of the Arab side of the story of the creation of the State of Israel and so on. But I would like to think that I was never blind to the multitudinous Arab failings, as the story progressed.

MM: You mentioned that your father had been in the Colonial Office. Do you mean ‘Office’ as opposed to Service?

BE: I do mean ‘Office’ as opposed to Service. He joined the Home Civil Service and chose, as bright people did in those days, to go into the Colonial Office, as a place where you could do good work. He did, however, have one overseas posting, and that, interestingly, from your point of view, was Private Secretary to the Governor - or was he High Commissioner? - in Palestine. So, when I went to Jerusalem, I met some people who knew my father from those days; old Palestinian families.

MM: A good introduction anyhow.
And there's more very interesting material:

Posting to Cairo in 1972 and the Egyptian Israeli war in 1973

MM: Anyhow, you went from there to Cairo. Direct transfer?

BE: Direct transfer, yes. Derek Day, who was Head of Personnel, came through Colombo on a pastoral visit and Alison backed him up against a wall at a cocktail party and told him very firmly that I was completely wasted in Sri Lanka and ought to be moved, and what about Cairo! And we got a direct posting. So I arrived there in 1972, shortly after Sadat had kicked the Russians out. In 1971 he had kicked the left wing Ali Sabri out of government; in 1972 he kicked the Russians out, just in time for the October war in 1973. Sadat liked to say that he believed in taking one decision a year and those were the decisions for those particular years!

MM: Important ones! And the 1973 war was not a particularly good decision was it?

BE: From his point of view? I don’t know. I think it is part of Egyptian mythology now that it was a thoroughly good decision. It was very interesting; I think we had slightly more inkling than the Israelis did about what was going to happen but, like everybody else, there was an element of strategic surprise that was very carefully maintained for the outbreak of war, largely because Sadat played a sort of - how shall I put it? - a ‘cry wolf’ game by having major exercises with his troops, moving them up, moving them back, moving them up, then back on exercises all the time. For the Israelis, it becametoo easy to say, “Oh it’s another exercise! We won’t bother to put our chaps on alert. And anyway, they can’t get across the Canal and, if they do get across the Canal, we’ll blow them away with our air superiority.” In fact, Egyptian strategy was much more nuanced, to begin with at any rate. They used high-pressure water hoses to blast holes through the great sand dunes that the Israelis had built on their side of the Canal, to cross the Canal, but did not advance into the depths of Sinai so that their troops were still under the cover of the protective umbrella of their surface-to-air missiles posted on the West Bank of the Canal. So the Israeli Air Force couldn’t do much about it. The element of surprise was totally maintained. It was an amazing achievement by the Egyptians, and it restored Egyptian pride, apart from anything else. There were various other aspects, but it was very interesting that he sent his troops across the Canal shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” Nasser had been relatively secular, you’ll remember. Sadat was calling Islam in aid. Sadat had also changed the name of United Arab Airlines to Egyptair. He was reasserting both Egyptian nationalism as opposed to Arab nationalism, and Egypt’s Islamic identity. But it was more sophisticated than that. My Ambassador, Philip Adams, got instructions from London twice during the war to ask Sadat personally whether he was ready to stop the fighting: the first time was, I can’t remember the dating now, but fairly soon after the start of hostilities. He found Sadat in military uniform in the Army headquarters in a bunker in Heliopolis in north-eastern Cairo, and Sadat said, “No! We’re doing very nicely thank you.” It would be quite interesting to look back and see the telegram that Philip must have sent but basically Sadat was giving the impression that all was under control and he knew what he was doing. Then Sadat had actually conned Hafiz al Asad into joining this two-pronged assault on Israel by telling him that it was to be an all-out assault. The Syrians very nearly succeeded in driving the Israelis offthe Golan and were stopped by the Israeli Air Force within a few yards of the edge of the escarpment. The Israelis realised that Sadat was not going to attack further into Sinai, and so they were able to turn the full weight of not only their Air Force but also their armour on the Syrians, who were then driven right back and were in imminent danger of being driven right back into Damascus, and God knows what was going to happen there. So there were anguished and extremely angry exchanges between Sadat and Hafiz al Asad. “Why aren’t you taking the pressure off me by attacking in Sinai? Why are you just sitting there waiting?” And the honest truth is that it had never been the Egyptian game plan to do more than, as it were, create a new situation. It was a very polished diplomatic operation. The first morning of the war, Philip Adams said to us, “Right! By lunchtime I’ve got to send a telegram to London saying what we think Egyptian war aims are. I want you to go out and talk to anybody you think can tell us anything.” And this was quite a challenge for diplomatic staff at an Embassy, as you can imagine. I knew one person who was, in theory, out of favour. Tahsin Bashir had been the official Government spokesman. He’d been parked, so it would seem to the outside world, as Chef de Cabinet to Mahmoud Riyadh who was the former Foreign Minister, again in parking orbit, as Secretary General of the Arab League. I happened to know that Tahsin Bashir was still a consultant to the Egyptian Intelligence Service but didn’t know that he knew that I knew! So I rang up Tahsin and said, “Look, there’s something going on this morning; I’m not absolutely clear what, but I think you know what’s going on. Could I come round and talk about it?” And he said, “Right! How soon can you get here?” So I said, “Give me twenty minutes.” I dashed round to the Arab League building, found Tahsin sitting in his office drinking coffee very peacefully with another man, who’s since become much more famous, called Usama al Baz. Usama was at that stage a Director of the Diplomatic Institute, the training institute for the Egyptian Diplomatic Service. I subsequently discovered that he too was a consultant to the Egyptian Intelligence Service. Anyway, they explained that no, actually the war aims were pretty limited. It was not to conquer the whole of Sinai militarily but to ‘move the situation’ - to create a situation which was inherently untenable in the long run for Israel and for the international community. . Anyway, we sat and had our cup of coffee and I went racing back to the Embassy - I remember I came back in, going in through the double doors and racing up the stairs. Libby Adams, the Ambassador’s wife, saw me and (she was the mildest of persons) said, “Basil! You’re behaving as if this whole war was laid on for your benefit!” Very exciting times! But it was brilliant little diplomatic operation by Tahsin and Usama because it was completely unusable intelligence, if you see what I mean. My report informed Philip Adams’s telegram but it was information that came from people who were, in theory at any rate, not in the inner circle.

Anyway, then what happened of course was Hafiz al Asad screaming blue murder, “You’ve got to take the pressure off me!” Sadat’s nerve broke - he knew that he’d basically conned Hafiz al Asad - and he ordered his troops to advance into Sinai towards the Mitla and Giddi passes. So they moved out fromunder the umbrella of their surface-to-air missiles and, of course, the Israeli Air Force turned on themwith enthusiasm. That created the opportunity for the Israelis to counter-attack and drive a hole through the Egyptian positions all along the east bank of the Canal, and actually to cross over at a place called Deversoir, the diversion place on the Canal. By the time Philip Adams got his second set of instructions to talk to Sadat, Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Forces were careering around on the West Bank of the Canal, as it were, on the Egyptian side, wreaking havoc in the Egyptian Army’s rear areas. We knew that; we weren’t absolutely sure, because the situation was clearly chaotic, that Sadat knew it. But, when Philip went in, he found Sadat in civilian clothes this time, sitting in the gardens of the Kubba Palace drinking a glass of limón under a mango tree, and he said, “No, I don’t think it’s gone on quite long enough yet!” The situation, in fact, got worse and worse as far as the Egyptians were concerned, with the whole of the Third Army, which was on the southern part of the Canal, being holed up trapped in the city of Suez. And so the Army was actually cut off; you had Israeli Forces on the Suez-Cairo road and Sadat under extreme pressure to save his Army by capitulating to Israeli demands. On the other hand, by that stage Henry Kissinger had got involved, and that was really what Sadat was after. He wanted to draw the Americans in to do something about all this. The Israeli situation was not, in fact, comfortable because they’d had to mobilise all their Forces. It was quite impossible for the Israelis to maintain full mobilisation which they would have to do in order to keep the Third Army trapped in Suez. So first Kissinger negotiated the first disengagement agreement, which basicallyfreed up the Third Army and gave the Egyptians a little bit of land on the other bank, so that they’d won a mighty victory and got the Israelis to back off, as it were, the Egyptian side of the Canal back into Sinai. It was very interesting because the Egyptian ploy was to ensure that any interim solution was not going to be durable, and could not be durable, so the first disengagement agreement was not going to be durable. The Egyptians knew that there had to be a second agreement, which then took the Israelis all the way back to the Mitla and Giddi passes in the middle of Sinai. It was quite difficult. I don’t think one really saw - at least I didn’t see - the logic of all that as it was happening quite so clearly. One was a bit too bogged down with the pressure of daily events to see it. So there was a fair amount of wisdom from hindsight about that.

But your first question was ‘Wasn’t it a bit of a disaster from the Egyptians’ point of view?’ The answer is not a bit of it; Sadat actually got out of it what he wanted. It was war as an extension ofdiplomacy when diplomacy had failed. It actually gave the diplomatic process such a jolt that it actually took him half way to where he wanted to be; it then needed another jolt, which was his trip to Jerusalem - which took place after I’d left - to take it the rest of the way, to get Sinai back. Part of the interest of all this was that it was based on an assertion of Egyptian, as opposed to Arab national interest, and we were watching all that with great interest at the time. MM: At that stage, who was financing Egypt?BE: The answer is nobody! There was, before 1973, a gap period after 1972, when the Russians were thrown out. The Russians had basically been giving Egypt and Syria weapons on tick, and I think to some extent that may have gone on; the Russians may have had a feeling that, if they stopped, their situation would be even worse. After they’d thrown the Russians out, the Egyptians knew that the state of the armed forces was going to deteriorate very rapidly. The October war, however, had the double benefit, as far as the Egyptians were concerned, of reasserting the Egyptian leadership of the Arab world; you know, “We are not hopeless when it comes to military matters! And you, O Arab brethren - O rich Arab brethren - have done incredibly well out of this as a result of the oil crisis and the boost in oil prices. Come on, pay up!” So that the 1973 war was not the start of Arab funding of the confrontation states, but it was a quantum leap in the amounts - I can’t remember the figures now.

MM: Oil prices quadrupled.

BE: Something like that, yes. And you know, there was also this business of the oil weapon. I don’t know to what extent that was built into the Egyptian planning but it certainly was a time of sudden wealth in the oil-producing States. When I’d been in Saudi in 1968, Saudi had been broke. Old King Saud had driven the country to near bankruptcy and King Faisal was desperately trying to restore the country’s finances. It was not a country flush with money. Mark you, there was money even then to do what needed to be done, in relation to the oil industry and so on, but it was not …

MM: Well that wouldn’t have been Saudi money necessarily.

BE: No.

MM: So, in this period - we’re talking about a period ending in 1976 when you moved away - Egypt was beginning to get money from Saudi Arabia.

BE: Yes. When I arrived in Egypt in 1972, there was only the American Interest Section of the US Embassy with one well-known CIA man, one administration officer who was the Head of the Interests Section, and one bright young Political Officer, and that was basically it. By the time I left, you had Herman Eilts who was Kissinger’s right hand man on the Middle East (who is still very alive incidentally. A great man in many ways), desperately trying to keep his Embassy small and manageable and eventually failing; it’s now one of the largest American Embassies anywhere. And the start of a major American aid programme to Egypt.

MM: Oh that started then, did it?

BE: Well it started then; of course it was the Camp David meeting that really made it take off.
MM: Which was when?

BE: Oh, when was Camp David? 1979 or something like that. I ought to know this off the top of my head and I don’t. I wasn’t involved in that at all; I wasn’t involved in the Middle East at that stage.

MM: I was wondering about the long-range outcome of the 1956 Suez invasion of Egypt (by the UK, France and Israel). Had that faded from the scene completely, or were there still echoes of it in your time?

BE: Oh, I think that had faded from memory. Of course there was resentment of the imperialists, but those went back to the old days of Empire rather than 1956. The 1956 aberration had I think more or less been forgotten. Sir Harold Beeley and co. had seen to that shortly afterwards; it really didn’t last very long.

MM: Interesting country, Egypt, I think.

BE: And still, for better or for worse, the intellectual hub of the whole Middle East.

MM: So, have we dealt with Egypt?

BE: Yes I think so. I mean, I could go on talking about it for hours but I think you’ve probably had most of the stuff that would be of interest to you. MM: Thank you very much...

...Appointment as ambassador in Damascus 1996-2000

So that was a good time. Then various jobs were mooted and I didn’t get them and so on, and then Damascus came up; absolutely delighted - very good fit. We had a super time; I think the best posting we had in our careers. The house was nothing to write home about - it was a perfectly decent house, better than many ambassadorial residencies in Damascus, but it was not particularly wonderful. It had a tiny little swimming pool and I could do about three strokes each way and it was a joke really, and a very small garden, but I had a garden. A lot of ambassadors had to make do with flats; it just wasn’t a town that had been geared up for dealing with diplomats. The time I was there was interesting because it was the time of the declining years of Hafez al-Assad, the wily old fox of Damascus who had been playing Middle Eastern power politics, usually with a weak hand but playing that weak hand ruthlessly and skillfully since the mid-sixties. The Ba’ath party took over in 1963 and he came out on top in 1964-66. But after the demise of what he used to call with a smile ‘as-Sovietunion al-marhum’ (the late-lamented Soviet Union), he had concluded that he needed the European Union as a counter-weight to the sole US super power in Middle Eastern affairs, and he also had concluded that he wanted better relations with the British because they had the best relations with Washington and, if he was ever to get back the Golan, which is the one thing he really wanted, it would have to be as a result of US pressure on Israel. I frankly can’t dispute his logic. From that point, therefore, in an incompetent but definite way, there was an attempt by the Syrian Government, which is a most disagreeable government, to make itself agreeable to the Brits and the Europeans more generally. At the same time, the regime felt a degree of confidence in its dominance of the country and felt able to relax the controls. When I arrived there, if you wanted to have a conversation with the Syrians about anything interesting - and by that you normally meant “What’s going to happen when the old man dies?” or policy to Israel - you first of all had to know your person very well and secondly you might want to walk down to the end of the garden to do it.

MM: So that it wasn’t taped or …

BE: So that it wasn’t taped or whatever. By the time I left, you could have conversations on both those subjects across my dinner table with differing views expressed by differing Syrians in front of each other, which was extraordinary.

MM: That’s a triumph!

BE: Yes, it was a triumph of diplomacy for us - it was frightfully nice for us to know that people could do that - but not only that; it was actually a reflection of the fact that the wind was blowing very strongly in that sort of direction. Hafez al-Assad was making a major effort in 1999 to clear the decks for his successor and so organising things that that successor could only be Bashar, his son. There was this business of persuading the Syrians and the Israelis to get into direct negotiations. It might be interesting to tell you it as I recollect the situation because I know a little bit about this. We, the British, played quite a significant part in all this. The basic point is that I had the great advantage, at a time when the Foreign Office was actually sceptical about Syrian willingness to do a deal, that Michael Levy, Lord Levy, the Prime Minister’s ‘special envoy’ to everywhere but, above all, a specialist fundraiser for the Labour Party who had strong connections with the Israeli Labour Party had also concluded, quite independently, that there was a deal to be done with the Syrians. The logic of this was that only the Syrians could give the Israelis a trouble-free exit from South Lebanon (and Barak certainly needed to get his troops out of there), and that a deal with the Syrians would lend such momentum to the peace process in relation to the West Bank and Gaza that a deal, which then seemed impossible, might be more easily obtained. So, throughout 1999, there was a series of visits by Michael Levy to Damascus. The first time he came with one of the Special Advisers and I told him afterwards that it might be better if he came with somebody from the Political Department to act as his note-taker and his interface with the normal formal bureaucratic procedure. I’m glad to say he tookmy advice and did that subsequently because, otherwise, it would have put me in a very difficult position. As it was, he wanted to see every word that was going into my reports. I made it clear that I represented the Government and not just the Foreign Office, but he was not always inclined to see it that way.

MM: But he was well within the centre of government himself.

BE: Absolutely! He played tennis with Tony, as he tended to drop into the conversation repeatedly. But, his ‘Tony and Me’ line did reflect the fact that he was extremely well connected. He’s a very interesting character, and Alison and I liked him and his wife Gilda who sometimes came with him. I think the old fox Hafez al-Assad had never seen anything quite like this. Michael made no secret of the fact, was proud of the fact, that he’d come from nowhere socially. He had no background in diplomacy; but he was well connected not only in government, not only within the Jewish community in London but also within the Israeli Labour hierarchy. His son Danny, in fact, was working at that stage for Yossi Beilin, who was still at that stage a key figure in the Labour Party hierarchy, and Michael and Gilda actually kept a house in Tel Aviv. What he was doing, in fact, when he came to talk to Hafez al-Assad was giving him briefings about how he, Michael, saw Israeli internal politics in relation to the peace process at the time. It’s extraordinary how useful that must have been because I don’t think Hafez trusted the intelligence he was getting from his own people - he didn’t trust anybody! It became clear that he, Assad, was prepared to do a deal so long as it could be presented as (and I choose my words carefully) an Israeli withdrawal to the lines of the beginning of June 1967, ie before the June War. There was a lot of haggling about whether Barak was prepared to give sufficient assurance for Assad that this was going to be the upshot for him to be prepared to go into direct negotiation. At the same time, Levy was explaining that, well no, he couldn’t do that because it would be held against him in domestic politics. He would have given everything away before he started, etc. We’re talking now about November 1999 or early December. Michael Levy came through for yet another visit - and there had been debriefing to the Americans of what was going on and yes, something might be possible. We had a long and in the event decisive meeting with Hafez al-Assad who had the Foreign Minister with him, and then Michael and I went on to see Bashar as well (more to get the measure of the man at that stage than to do business). That all went on so long that the official dinner that had been laid on for us had to be cancelled. So Michael and I just went out to have supper down town. Michael was due to leave early the following morning. We were actually in the middle of our meal when we got summoned. The Syrians, who knew where everybody was all the time, got in touch with us and said, “Look, the Foreign Minister would like to see you now please.” So we finished the rest of our meal and went back to the Foreign Ministry where Farouq Sharah asked Michael basically to repeat what he’d learned from his meeting that morning with the President, where Farouq Sharah had been present. Sharah wanted to be absolutely clear that there was no misunderstanding. Fortunately Michael who wrote copious notes on tiny bits of paper was able to give a remarkably good account, scrupulously accurate, of what had happened. And Sharah said, “Thank you very much; I think that’s right but these matters are so important we want to be sure. I hope you have a good trip home.” “Yes, I’m leaving on the first ‘plane tomorrow morning.” “Oh, I’m not sure you ought to leave quite that soon.” We were then summoned back to see Hafez al-Assad the next morning. What had happened? Hafez wanted to check himself that we had got it right; he too wanted to hear Michael’s verbatim account of what had happened the previous day in the meeting. Michael Levy repeated his account again and off we went, sent off telegrams all over the place. He had to travel back via Vienna and found himself on the same ‘plane as Bashar al-Assad travelling incognito, probably to meet his future wife. He married a girl he had met in England. So Levy and Bashar wandered round the Duty Free in Vienna chatting. By this time, Michael, who’s a very engaging personality, is a friend of the family! A man who was kissed warmly on both cheeks by Hafez al-Assad – a picture I will treasure in my memory! A few days later, Madeleine Albright arrived. According to Dennis Ross they found ‘the door unlocked’, and made arrangements for the Syrians and the Israelis to meet at a country house conference complex outside Washington, called Shepherdstown, immediately after Christmas I think. I can’t remember the precise date. We, of course, were not involved - sadly, I think, because we might have been able to avoid the Horlicks that then happened. Barak had given sufficient assurances for

Assad to believe, genuinely, that he understood that the outcome had to be presentable as withdrawal to the lines as they existed before June 1967. The negotiations divided into different working groups, which were intended, so one assumed, to operate in parallel. The one group which the Syrians were interested in was called 'withdrawal', the timing, extent and so on. One was called 'security' and was to deal with the arrangements, above all for the listening posts on the top of the Golan but also for the areas from which the Israelis were to withdraw, the extent to which they were going to be demilitarised, and what were going to be the arrangements for supervising the demilitarisation and so on. One group was on 'peaceful relations'. Were you going to have diplomatic relations? Were you going to have open borders? What was going to be the situation? And one was on 'water', which was a hot issue since the Golan was a major source of water supply for the Jordan basin and the greater Israel. All the groups met, but the Israelis didn’t turn up for the first group at all for the first two days. The Syrians, having been assured the Israelis understood that the end result had to be total withdrawal, or something that could be presented as total withdrawal, negotiated in, I believe, good faith, and gave a great deal away so that, on security issues for example, the only outstanding point was whether the people who were going to man the listening stations on top of Mount Herman, from which you can actually look down into Damascus, whether those people were actually going to be Americans or Israelis. But whoever manned the stations, the ‘take’ would have been piped straight back down to Israel. All this sort of thing could have been fixed. The Syrian gave away a great deal on 'water', which was apparently quite a good discussion by water experts about how they were going solve this problem. But the Israelis didn’t turn up to the first group. Obviously Assad was far too ill to go so, Farouq Sharah was sent; a very exposed position on his own but with a good team to represent the Syrians, but the boss wasn’t there, whereas the Israelis were represented by Barak. When the Israelis did turn up to the third group, I suppose it was the third day, they turned up without even a map. They were not serious. The Americans, by this stage, had got to the situation where they had actually drafted theoutline agreement which incorporated all the agreements reached in the other groups. Things were going well except for the absence of progress in the first group. Farouq Sharah said, “I can’t go on like this. We’re going home. Tell the Israelis and Americans that, as soon as they’re serious, we’ll comeback.” And off he went, I think expecting to come back.

Unfortunately the Israelis leaked the draft agreement to the Israeli press to show just how clever they’d been and just how much they’d got. Again, this was perhaps required by their domestic political situation. They’d felt themselves politically exposed, but of course this was extremely short-sighted. None of the concessions that had been made had been cleared in advance with the Syrian Ba’ath Party and so on, and it was an over-simplification at best to think that Hafaez al-Assad or, still less, Farouq Sharah could just say yes and it would all go through like a dose of salts. So, as soon as that was leaked, it became impossible for the negotiations to resume. There was a subsequent lurch in early 2000. A meeting was set up in Geneva between Clinton and Assad - Assad didn’t normally travel by that stage; he was a very old, very sick man - and the assumption amongst the Syrians present was that this was going to lead to resumption of negotiations. I was assured that the Syrian party went, with luggage so that they could, if necessary, go straight on to Washington to continue with negotiations. That was as close as Syria and Israel have ever been to negotiation. I was not involved in the negotiation direct but with Michael Levy - I was basically supporting him in the talks, briefing him beforehand and writing the telegrams afterwards and so on - I was very involved in getting the Syrians up to that point, and was acutely frustrated that we didn’t actually get anywhere. We left Syria in I suppose about May, something like that, and we were off with our charity in Zambia in June.

MM: Thank you very much indeed for that.

Transcribed by Joanna Buckley, October 2005

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