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Richard Cowper is a foreign policy expert and has worked for the Financial Times for 30 years.

After three decades helping to transform the London Financial Times into one of the world's great international newspapers, Richard Cowper is finally leaving the Pink 'Un.

A ski mountaineer, photographer and international journalist Richard Cowper, 58, joined the Financial Times in 1977 from the Sunday News, a Belfast Sunday newspaper, where he spent the first three years of his journalistic career covering Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles.

In 1980 he was sent out to Southeast Asia by the legendary FT managing editor JDF Jones to work effectively as the newspaper's Southeast Asia correspondent. During his time there he covered a coup in Bangladesh, the Vietnamese troop withdrawal from Cambodia and elections in Indonesia,Thailand, the Philippines and India.

He has reported on political and economic issues for the FT from 16 countries, mostly in Asia and the Middle East and has written for the newspaper and FT.Com about mountaineering, skiing and sailing from more than a dozen others, attempting Everest in 1996.

It was from Everest that he wrote a famous Weekend second front for the FT about climbers deliberately left to die on the slopes of the world's highest mountain, which caused a storm throughout the climbing world and is still hotly debated today.

He has made many expeditions with Doug Scott, the first Briton to climb Everest and in the last decade has become of Britain's leading ski mountaineers. He recently wrote movingly for the Financial Times about the loss of a skiing colleague killed by his side in an avalanche on Mt Ararat.

By far the greatest part of his FT career was as a desk journalist on the world-famous Foreign Desk in London, where he was widely praised for his pages on the collapse of communism, the first Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan. He was at the heart of the desk's coverage of the events of September 11 2001 and was responsible for many of the pages on the most recent expansion of the European Union.

The FT Foreign Desk (later World Desk) in London, where he worked for 23 years, was divided up in the Autumn of 2006 and his part of the operation was amalgamated with four other departments.

As a photographer he documented the last days of linotype printing at the FT with his Nikon FM2 in a series of gritty black and white pictures which captured many FT characters and the traditional print operation at Bracken House.

"If you cut open my heart, you will find FT engraved on it," he says.