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Your Eminences. Excellencies. Reverend Fathers. Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is an immense honour for me to stand here today…
…in what is, for more than a billion people, the spiritual capital of the world.
And it is a further privilege to lead the largest ever ministerial delegation from the United Kingdom to the Holy See.
To celebrate the relationship between our two states:
The oldest formal diplomatic relationship in my country’s history.
…and today, one of the strongest.
Our diplomatic relationship began here in 1479, only a short distance from where we now stand.
For reasons we all know too well, we broke diplomatic relations…
…only to restore them during the First World War.
This year marks 30 years since full diplomatic relations were re-established between us.
We want to build upon our bond, to show it to the rest of the world, and to let it inspire others.
Because our relationship enables us to act together in the name of the common good:
To promote democracy.
To fight for human rights.
To encourage fair, responsible trade.
To tackle climate change.
And to help build stable nations.
We are grateful for the superb work our Ambassador Nigel Baker is doing here…
…building on the tremendous tenure of his predecessor Francis Campbell.
The UK recognises that, as the smallest state in the world, the Holy See has the widest global reach.
It therefore seems inevitable that the UK with its global reach and historic and current interests should nurture, strengthen and promote our relationship.
The areas upon which, by working together, we can achieve tangible, practical outcomes are both so vast and so important that they, in many ways, contextualise our differences.
And I believe the strength of our relationship can give tremendous hope and inspiration to others across the world.