Politics in Minutes (2016)
Defence and foreign policy
It is often argued that the first duty of a government is the protection of the state and its people. But defence against outside aggression is only one aspect of a government’s relationships with other states. In addition to a department of defence, a government typically also has a department of foreign affairs that deals with matters of international trade, the movement of goods and labour, and economic, strategic and cultural links between countries.
This is complemented by a network of embassies and other outposts of the department of foreign affairs, based in other countries. Diplomatic staff are the frontline of communication with the governments of other countries. Foreign policy, especially the forging of military or economic alliances, is negotiated with the governments of other countries, and discussions between their respective ministers of foreign affairs or defence, or even the heads of state, either individually or at summit conferences (see here).