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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

STEPHEN SACKUR (article first published : 2005-03-21)

BBC World has announced that Stephen Sackur will be the new regular presenter of HARDtalk, its flagship daily current affairs interview programme which can be seen on DStv.

Currently based in Brussels in Belgium as the BBC's Europe Correspondent, Stephen will move to BBC World's headquarters in London to take up his new full-time role on April 18.

Stephen (41) has been a BBC Foreign Correspondent since 1990. His postings include five years as BBC Middle East Correspondent, having been located in Cairo, Egypt, from 1992 to 1995, and Jerusalem, Israel, from 1995 to 1997. He covered issues including the evolving peace process, the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the emergence of the Palestinian Authority under the late Yasser Arafat.

This was followed by five years in the United States as Washington Correspondent, during which time Stephen interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and reported extensively on such major stories as the Presidential election of 2000, and the Lewinsky scandal that hit Bill Clinton in his second term and led to his impeachment trial.

He moved to Brussels in 2002, and has spent the past three years travelling across Europe to cover major stories from around the continent, including Europe's worst terror attack of recent times in Madrid in 2004, and the expansion of the European Union from 15 countries to 25.

Stephen says: "This is a huge challenge for me. I've spent the past 15 years as a foreign correspondent, representing the BBC abroad, and am very much aware of the massive pulling power of HARDtalk. I've met many world leaders, all of whom respect HARDtalk, and I can think of no bigger programme with which to be involved. I've had pretty much the best job in the BBC as a foreign correspondent, and the only way of topping it is through HARDtalk, putting tough questions to the people who shape our world."

Stephen takes over from Tim Sebastian, who has presented HARDtalk since it began in March 1997. Tim announced last September that he would be stepping down from HARDtalk to concentrate on other projects for BBC World.

Tim adds: "It's been an enormous privilege to ask leading questions and to travel the world trying to get answers. We've left some bruised political egos in our wake, and some important feathers ruffled. I know that Stephen will do everything he can to wrest the facts from the spinners and dodgers. I wish him luck and I hope very much that viewers will give him their support."

HARDtalk is broadcast on BBC World on DStv daily from Monday to Thursday, with five showings per day in Africa at 06h30, 13h30, 17h30, 21h30 and 02h30 (the following day).The programme has gained an international reputation for asking tough questions of global leaders, political figures, the military, campaigners and representatives of the world's leading organisations. HARDtalk is edited by Carey Clark.




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