Britain names Neil Wigan as new ambassador to Israel
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Britain names Neil Wigan as new ambassador to Israel

Current head of UK Foreign Office’s Africa Directorate to succeed David Quarrey in June

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Incoming UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan. (courtesy UK Embassy, Tel Aviv)
Incoming UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan. (courtesy UK Embassy, Tel Aviv)

Britain has named Neil Wigan as the next ambassador to Israel, succeeding incumbent David Quarrey.

Wigan, who has been ambassador to Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will take up his new posting in Tel Aviv in June, the Foreign Office announced Thursday.

Today the head of the Foreign Office’s Africa Directorate, Wigan has previously served as the head of the political section at the UK Embassy in Israel and as deputy director for Middle East and Wider World at Downing 10. His first two ambassadorial postings were to Kinshasa and Mogadishu.

“Israel was my first overseas post, and I have always wanted to return,” Wigan said Thursday. “I am delighted to be ambassador at an exciting time in the UK-Israel partnership. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.”

One of the key issues Wigan, who briefly worked as an analyst for the Bank of England before joining the foreign service, will be dealing with during his term as ambassador is likely to be the future of Israel-UK trade relations after Britain leaves the European Union.

Last week, Economy Minister Eli Cohen and UK International Development Secretary Liam Fox announced that they had agreed “in principle” on a post-Brexit trade agreement.

Other issues on the bilateral agenda will be London’s ongoing support for the Iran nuclear deal and its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Quarrey, the UK’s first openly gay ambassador, has been serving in Israel since August 2015. He will be taking up another diplomat post, the Foreign Office said, not providing more information.

Last week, Vienna also announced its next ambassador to Israel, Hannah Liko.

Currently heading the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s Security Affairs department, Tel Aviv will be her first ambassadorial posting.

Austria’s current ambassador to Israel, Martin Weiss, is headed to Washington in the summer.

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