Secret retreat marks 60 years of diplomacy





A diplomatic hideaway in the south of England, scene of decades of international deals, is marking its 60th anniversary - quietly.

You won't find Wilton Park on a map. It has rarely made media headlines. Yet it can claim to have been a nerve centre for global diplomacy for 60 years.

Some would claim it has changed the course of history.

What is it? A country house in a rambling estate near Brighton on England's south-east coast.

It doesn't look much like a place for brokering high-powered international deals - more like the setting for an old-fashioned Agatha Christie thriller, with its comfortable English furniture, picturesque churchyard beside the front entrance and misty views from its bay windows.

Wilton Park began in 1946 as part of Winston Churchill's initiative to rebuild peace and democracy in Europe after the war. Its first task was to screen German prisoners of war and introduce West German civilian leaders to the idea of free debate.

The success of those efforts was no foregone conclusion. Members of that generation of Germans, brought up under Nazi tyranny, said they found the experience of free speech a revelation.




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