It’s not a great surprise to find that joint statements from the governments of two friendly countries often follow similar lines, but it’s getting ridiculous. The platitudes on display after the meeting of the Omani and UK foreign ministers issued today were almost a carbon copy of those expressed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa after their meeting two days ago. Both were “warm and productive” meetings, in which the UK set out its “ambition to reinforce ties with the Gulf”. Both sides looked back to a valuable “history of partnership” and agreed they should build “bilateral relations for the future” and “expand existing co-operation between their countries across the board including on culture, education, defence and security, trade and investment and foreign policy”.
In both cases “they decided to establish a joint Steering Committee to take this forward” and agreed that “boosting trade links would bring great benefit”.
And both statements were wrapped up with vague references to the problems in nearby countries using almost exactly the same language: “There was also a good discussion of current foreign policy issues in the region. There was agreement on the importance of success in delivering a stable Afghanistan able to manage its own security. On the Middle East, the two sides agreed on the need for urgent progress towards a two state solution - a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel - and on the importance of a peaceful resolution of Iran's nuclear issue / implementing in full the recent UN Security Council Resolution on Iran's nuclear programme”.
It creates the sense that it is the UK diplomats that draw up these vacuous statements, which are then meekly rubber-stamped by the other side’s officials. A little dusting of colonialism lives on it seems.