By Ray Fleming

WILLIAM Hague was interviewed by John Humphrys for 15-minutes on BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday morning and covered most of the urgent foreign policy issues of the moment crisply and clearly. Among the senior ministers in the Lib-Con coalition government I would say that Mr Hague has shown the greatest improvement in putting his policies across.

He answers the questions he is asked and doesn't waste words. On developments in Egypt he said that Britain “takes sides on behalf of democracy” and he listed what the military interim government needs to do -- for instance, bringing to an end the continuing emergency rule, stopping the trial of civilian protestors by military tribunals, withdrawing its proposals for special military powers in a new constitution and ensuring free and fair elections. Asked by John Humphrys whether he agreed with his Labour predecessor Jack Straw that Britain would never attack Iran over its nuclear programme, he said that “all options remain open” but he favours the sanctions and diplomacy approach. Concerning whether the trial of Saif Gaddafi,should take place at The Hague rather than in Libya, Mr Hague pointed out that International Criminal Court regulations provide for trials to take place in a relevant country provided that they meet international standards. He described the situation in Syria as “appalling and unacceptable” but did not go further.