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Before the era of rapid international transport (such as cars, trains and aircraft) or virtually instantaneous communication (such as radio or telephone), diplomatic mission chiefs were granted full (plenipotentiary) powers to represent their government in negotiations with their host nation. Conventionally, any representations made or agreements reached with them would be recognized and complied with by their government. Historically, the common generic term for high diplomats of the crown or state was Minister. It therefore became customary to style the chiefs of full ranking missions as Minister Plenipotentiary. This position was roughly equivalent to the modern Ambassador - a term which historically was reserved mainly for missions between the great powers and also relating to the city state of Venice. Permanent missions at a bilateral level were chiefly limited to relations between large, neighbouring or closely allied powers. However, diplomatic missions were despatched for specific tasks such as negotiating a treaty bilaterally or via a conference such as the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire. In such cases it was normal to send a representative minister empowered to cast votes. Below the rank of Minister Plenipotentiary there were in some cases a Minister Resident or Resident Minister: a form of which is sometimes seen in colonial indirect rule. Below this again came a Chargé d'affaires who was not accredited to the head of state but represented at government level. By the time of the Vienna Congress (1814-15), which codified diplomatic relations, Ambassador had become a common title, and was established as the only class above Minister Plenipotentiary; Ambassadors would gradually become the standardised title for bilateral mission chiefs as their ranks no longer tended to reflect the importance of the states, which came to be treated as formally equal. In modern times, heads of state and of government, and more junior ministers and officials, can easily meet or speak with each other personally. Therefore ambassadors arguably do not require plenipotentiary powers; however they continue to be designated and accredited as extraordinary and plenipotentiary.

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Q: What is an Ambassador with Plenty potentiary?
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