A good reminder came in from the Century Foundation’s Neil Bhatiya about a piece from last week in the Financial Times on Brookings Institution president Strobe Talbott’s unusual forum for diplomacy.

In the mid-1990s when Russia’s foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov wanted to signal his alarm at Nato’s expanding girth, he picked a Washington DC meeting spot long favoured by policymakers: Strobe Talbott’s kitchen table.

In a 40-year career that has taken him from the foreign bureaux of Time magazine via the US State Department to the Brookings think-tank, which he now heads, Talbott has applied true kitchen diplomacy to global hotspots, often diffusing tensions by inviting key players into his own home.