Despite what appears to be sour relations between the two governments, Zimbabwe is so important to the United Kingdom that it is one of the 71 countries in the world where Britain has a defence attaché.
Britain has defence attaches in only three Southern African countries, resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo, regional powerhouse South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (International Security Strategy) for Defence, Gerald Howarth told the House of Commons yesterday that the British government spent 31.8 million pounds on the defence attaches in the 71 countries in 2010.
Howarth said the defence attaches work closely with their host governments to pursue close bilateral defence relationships, build partnerships between armed forces and provide bespoke military support to Britain’s policy priorities to protect and promote the UK’s influence and interests.
“Defence attachés’ unique relationships and access deliver disproportionate soft power projection and influence. They work to promote British values and regional policies, advance regional development and prevent conflict.
“They deliver significant effect to counter terrorism, support conflict resolution in fragile states and where appropriate, provide specialist knowledge and influence to assist to build UK prosperity,” he said.
The UK had defence attachés and advisers in 71 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria Hub (covering Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Slovakia and Switzerland,), Bahrain, Baltic States (Estonia), Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland (non resident, accredited from London), Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal (non resident, accredited from London), Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Somalia (based in Kenya), Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America (with a further attaché to the UK Mission to UN New York), Uzbekistan, Yemen and Zimbabwe.