British embassy reopens in Haiti after 47 years

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Britain reopened its embassy in Haiti on Wednesday after being absent for nearly a half century, a part of an effort to broaden its diplomatic and business presence in the Western Hemisphere.

The new two-person mission will be housed at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The ambassador is Mr Steven Fisher, who is already the British envoy to the neighbouring Dominican Republic. He will continue to live and work in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo.

Britain opened an embassy in El Salvador late last year and another will be reopened in Paraguay in July as part of a push by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to strength British diplomacy in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A new British consulate was opened in late 2011 in the Brazilian city of Recife. There was already a full embassy in Brazil's capital of Brasilia and consulates in the leading cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Visiting British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire was on hand for the Wednesday ceremony in Port-au-Prince. He also met with President Michel Martelly and other Haitian officials during a two-day trip to encourage bilateral trade and investment.

Haiti plans to open a diplomatic mission in Britain in September.

Britain's last ambassador to Haiti, Mr Gerard Corley Smith, left the country in 1962 after being declared persona non grata by dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

The embassy closed in 1966, the same year that the publication of British writer Graham Greene's novel The Comedians added to worsening tensions with its critical look at the Duvalier government and its secret police.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.