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New defence secretary reaffirms UK foreign policy

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme for the first time as the UK's defence secretary, Phillip Hammond reiterated Britain's commitment to protect civilians populations from unscrupulous regimes.

Listen here from 02:18:00 for full interview.

Extracts reproduced verbatim below:

HAMMOND: We took part in this NATO campaign under the United Nations resolution and we took part in order to protect civilians against a very imminent massacre. Now that campaign - that was the reason we did it - now that campaign is over, of course I would expect British companies to be - even today - British sales directors to be packing their suitcases and looking to get out to Libya and to take part in the reconstruction as soon as they can.

QUESTION: History shows us that when a prime minister gets involved in a successful military operation it rather encourages him to do more of it.

HAMMOND: Well, I think David Cameron was prepared to take a very bold decision to act to protect the Libyan people from an imminent disaster. We heard Colonel Gaddafi's threats to the population of Bengazi.

QUESTION: I'm wondering well it will encourage him to do it again, get more involved? Is this, sort of, interventionist policy rather strengthened?

HAMMOND: David Cameron is a very cautious and thoughtful person. I don't think there's any danger of him charging around in a gun-ho frame of mind, but he will look very carefully around the world, and if we see civilian populations being threatened, if we see people like Colonel Gaddafi who pose a real and present danger to the UK's own national security, then of course we will look to do what we can to end those situations.

Phillip Hammond was appointed as defence secretary following Liam Fox's resignation.

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