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Ambassador Stresses British, U.S. Cooperation

But the event's scope broadened when activists from Students United for a Responsible Global Environment forced the ambassador to address U.N. sanctions on Iraq.

Sir Christopher Meyer, the British ambassador to the United States, addressed a standing-room-only crowd of students, faculty and community members in the Commons Room of the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

In an address that followed a speech by his wife, Lady Catherine Meyer, the ambassador spoke on "The Role of an Ambassador," a topic he quickly defined. "The real title of my speech should be `Can Diplomats Justify Their Existence?'" he said with a refined British accent. "The short answer is simply `yes.' The longer answer I am about to deploy."

Using a lively manner of speech and emphasizing his key words with intonations, Meyer proceeded to explain a number of important purposes of a foreign diplomat in the modern world. "The days are long since gone when diplomacy can be conducted with utmost subtlety," he said. "This is the age of CNN and of sound bytes. . There is no substitute to having people on the spot."

But not all of Meyer's observations were of a serious nature.

The ambassador made reference to a widely circulated e-mail proposing that the United States revert back to the British monarchy in light of the recent undecided election.

"I had nothing to do with (the e-mail)," he said.

"But if you're looking for a viceroy, I'd be happy to oblige. Perhaps this idea for a republic has grown a bit tiresome. My one condition is that the state of Florida be returned to the kingdom of Spain," he dead-panned.

During the question-and-answer portion of Meyer's address, his attentions were turned toward an unexpected source when members of SURGE confronted the ambassador with the issue of U.N. relief sanctions against Iraq.

"A child dies every 10 minutes as a direct result of these sanctions," said SURGE President Dennis Markatos, as he approached the stage to present a petition and a teddy bear to the ambassador.

Meyer quickly responded before Markatos could reach the stage, and their voices spoke on top of each other. "The glory of diplomatic policy is that we can disagree respectfully," Meyer said. "And I believe you are factually wrong."

But after the exchange, Markatos was unfazed and shook the ambassador's hand after most people had left. "It was a textbook answer," he said. "But he hasn't been on the ground in Iraq."

Clay Campbell, a freshman from Salisbury, said he was annoyed by SURGE's focus on the sanctions in Iraq, but that he found the address more enjoyable than he expected.

"I thought it would be more dull than it was," he said. "He was very witty and very knowledgeable."

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