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Mr. Waldegrave : There have been a number of positive developments ; the PLO's renunciation of terrorism ; Israel's recognition that the status quo is untenable ; the constructive attitude of the Soviet Union and the determination of the United States to work actively for a settlement. We continue to believe that an international conference remains the most suitable framework for negotiations between the parties.
Mrs. Chalker : We remain in contact with the Governments of the Horn about the problems of the region, both bilaterally and with our partners in the Twelve. We are also in touch with other Governments. My right hon. and learned Friend discussed the Horn with Mr. Shevardnadze on 6 April and urged the Soviet Union to use its considerable influence in the area in a positive direction.
31. Mr. Norman Hogg : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response he has made to calls among the United Kingdom European Community partners for greater emphasis on the social sphere in the run up to 1992.
Mr. Waldegrave : Two negotiations--one on conventional armed forces in Europe and one on confidence and security-building measures--began in Vienna on 6 March. The discussions have got off to a good businesslike start. My right hon. and learned Friend presented radical western proposals for both sets of talks on 6 March. We now look for a response from the east.
Mr. Eggar : I met Mr. Solana in Caracas in January when we had a useful exchange of views on bilateral and international issues. I saw him again at the San Jose V conference in San Pedro Sula in February, and hope to continue our exchanges during my visit to Mexico later this month.
23. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the United States Government to help stem the flow of funds and weapons to terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Government of the United States share our abhorrence of the activities of terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland. There is constant and continuing co-operation with them and this has significantly inhibited the flow of funds and arms into the Province. Our joint vigilance will not be relaxed as long as the terrorist threat remains.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. and learned Friend had a brief discussion with President Vassiliou on the telephone when he passed through London on 4 April, on his way to New York for his meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General and Mr. Denktash on 6 April. We welcome the agreement reached at that meeting to prepare a draft outline of an overall settlement by the end of May. We urge both sides to work constructively towards that end.
25. Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the new United States Administration concerning foreign policy matters in particular in the middle east ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. and learned Friend and I both had talks with the Hungarian Foreign Minister on Wednesday 15 March during his visit to the United Kingdom. We had a useful discussion on bilateral matters, including trade, and on international issues. We also discussed developments in the internal situation in Hungary.
28. Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has had with other Foreign Affairs Ministers regarding Third world debt ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : My right hon. and learned Friend discussed Tibet when he met the Chinese Foreign Minister in Tokyo in February. My noble Friend the Minister of State also discussed Tibet with Mr. Zhou Nan, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister during the latter's visit in March.
36. Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the light of recent events in Venezuela, what new initiatives he is planning to help south American democracies with their debt problems.
Mrs. Chalker : At the recent spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington, Finance Ministers of the leading industrialised countries, including the United Kingdom, agreed that the key principles of the case-by-case growth-oriented debt strategy remain valid. They encouraged the IMF and World Bank to take appropriate steps to support efforts to reduce the debt burdens of countries which are committed to substantial economic reforms, while emphasising that concrete negotiations are a matter for the debtor countries and the commercial bank.
37. Mr. Gill : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what encouragement he will give to member countries of EFTA and Eastern bloc countries to forge closer links with the European Community.
Mrs. Chalker : We welcomed the agreement of EC and EFTA Ministers meeting in Brussels on 20 March, to consider jointly the promotion of closer and more extensive EC/EFTA co-operation. We also supported the establishment last year of official EC relations with all Eastern European countries except Romania, and are in favour of the trade or trade and co- operation agreements currently concluded or under negotiation with these countries.
Mr. Chalker : I refer my hon. Friend to the anti-fraud proposals endorsed by the Economic and Finance Council on 13 March and reported by my right hon. Friend the Paymaster General in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) on 15 March at
Column 557column 245 . Those measures were based on suggestions put forward by the United Kingdom in the run-up to the Council.
Mr. Eggar : Britain and Pakistan enjoy a warm and friendly relationship based on strong historical ties. These have been reinforced by the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State paid a useful visit to Islamabad from 27 to 28 March. We look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Bhutto to Britain later this year.
Mrs. Chalker : Our relations with Portugal are excellent. Portugal is our oldest ally, and we work closely together within NATO and the European Community. We are delighted that Portugal has also acceded to the WEU and that this took place under the British presidency.
43. Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any plans to make representations to the South African Government on its policy towards South-West Africa.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed Namibia when she met the South African Foreign Minister in Windhoek on 1 April. Subsequently we have been in daily, often hourly, contact with the South African Government in support of the United Nation's efforts to restore peace to Namibia.
44. Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations Her Majesty's Government have made to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for the release of political detainees.
Mrs. Chalker : We have made frequent high level representations on behalf of those detained without charge in South Africa. We believe all those so detained should be charged or released unconditionally.
45. Mr. Patnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in achieving better targeting and improved dissemination of official information to overseas media.
Mr. Eggar : Our posts abroad are required regularly to report back on the impact of official information on the overseas media, in particular through a full annual return which reviews output against objectives. We are refining posts' annual information reporting procedures to give greater emphasis to the definition of targets and objectives.
The performance of suppliers is also monitored to ensure that services provided and resources used support FCO information objectives.
Mr. Eggar : We have normal diplomatic relations with all the countries of central America. Our policy towards the region is based on support for democracy and respect for human rights and the need for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of regional conflicts. We have therefore consistently supported the efforts of the central American states to resolve their problems within the framework of the Esquipulas II peace process.
Mrs. Chalker : We enjoy excellent relations with Spain, which is a valued partner and ally in the European Community, NATO and the Western European Union. The importance and strength of our relations was well demonstrated by the visits to Spain by Her Majesty the Queen and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last autumn.
Mr. Eggar : A United Nations convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances was adopted in December 1988. The United Kingdom has signed subject to ratification. We have also signed bilateral asset seizure agreements with five countries, the most recent with Switzerland on 8 March. Similar arrangements have also been concluded with Bermuda.
50. Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met M. Jacques Delors to discuss developments within the European Community ; and what specific matters were discussed.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. and learned Friend and I last met M. Delors at the meeting of the Council of Ministers on 20 March. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of 22 March to my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Coombs) at column 623-24.
52. Mr. Riddick : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last discussed southern African affairs with the South African ambassador ; and what specific matters were discussed.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State last met the South African ambassador during the visit of the South African Foreign Minister, Mr. Pik Botha, on 15 March. They discussed a wide range of issues.
Mr. Eggar : We regularly receive representations from organisations and individual members of the public, both in this country and in Hong Kong, about a wide range of issues connected with the future of Hong Kong. We are also in close contact with the Hong Kong Government, who have their own channels for consultation and monitoring of public opinion in Hong Kong.
Column 561Loudoun (Mr. McKelvey) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Paice) at columns 728-29.
62. Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, during his meetings with Soviet leaders last week, the continuation of Syrian involvement in international terrorism was discussed.
Mrs. Chalker : I last raised the matter of human rights in Turkey with the Turkish ambassador on 2 February. He readily accepted the need for Turkey to abide by the terms and conditions of the human rights conventions to which Turkey is a party, and reaffirmed the determination of his Government to secure further improvements in the respect for human rights in Turkey.
Mr. Eggar : Refugees in Pakistan benefit from British humanitarian aid to the Afghans through international and non-governmental organisations. This totalled £10.5 million last year. We have so far announced a contribution of £2 million this year and are ready to provide further assistance as the need is established.
Mr. Waldegrave : Human rights questions are a part of the regular agenda for our discussions with the Soviet authorities. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State made our views clear when he met Mr. Shevardnadze last week. A list of cases of public concern was handed over.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Secretary General of NATO and my right hon. and learned Friend both participated in the ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council, held in Brussels on 8-9 December, at which a full range of Alliance security and arms control issues was discussed.
Mr. Eggar : There are no immediate plans for any Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers to visit Brazil. I visited Brazil in November 1988, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary visited in July 1985.
Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he plans to hold further discussions with the Israeli authorities on middle east peace problems following the recent visit by the Minister of State.
Mr. Waldegrave : Yes. The next move will be the visit of Mr. Shamir next month. We shall continue to play our full part in efforts to prepare for negotiations. We have an active dialogue with all the parties.