Mrs. Chalker : Our relations with Ghana are close and friendly. The British Government play a significant role in support of Ghana's programme of economic re-structuring through our bilateral aid programme and the multilateral institutions. I visited Ghana from 28 to 30 June, accompanied by a group of British business men. During my visit I had discussions on a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues with the Head of State, Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings, and other members of the Ghanaian Government.
Mrs. Chalker : We enjoy close and warm relations with Nigeria. Following the state visit to the United Kingdom by President Babangida in May, I led a large party of United Kingdom business men to Nigeria on 25 and 26 June. I held talks with President Babangida and other members of the Nigerian Government, and opened a hydrocarbons seminar sponsored jointly by the DTI and the Energy Industries Council. Both my visit and the seminar seem to have been highly successful.
18. Mr. Holt : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what statements have been issued by the Czechoslovakian Government regarding Semtex and the addition of a smelling agent.
Secretary-General on 15 June which urged support for work on a Convention to mark all plastic and sheet explosives for detection. This followed our successful sponsorship of a Security Council resolution (No. 635) on 14 June. I am arranging for a copy of this letter and of SCR 635 to be placed in the Library of the House.
29. Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international negotiations he has had about the marking of Semtex and other high explosives ; and if he will make a statement.
41. Mr. Mates : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international negotiations he has had in respect of the marking of Semtex and other high explosives ; and if he will make a statement.
55. Mrs. Gillian Shephard : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international discussions he has had about the marking of Semtex and other high explosives ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Waldegrave : We held preliminary talks with Czechoslovakia earlier this year on the marking of plastic explosives for the purposes of detection. Further negotiations in the United Nations Security Council in New York (initiated during the British presidency of the council in May) led to the unanimous adoption on 14 June of Security Council resolution No. 635, calling for the drafting of an international convention on the marking of plastic and sheet explosives. Work on this is already under way in the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Column 541relations. The visit set the seal on the dynamic relationship with Australia which has developed in the past year or two.
Mr. Eggar : Following the recent successful visit to Britain by the Prime Minister of Australia, we will be seeking to ensure that a regular momentum of ministerial and official exchanges is maintained. Visits to Australia in the past twelve months by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Defence, for Trade and Industry, and for Education and Science have meant a thorough review of our relationship with Australia in these and other fields. We want to see the already strong co-operation in these areas maintained and, wherever possible, expanded.
20. Mr. Archer : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has had discussions with his European Economic Community counterparts or members of the United Nations Security Council on seeking the early withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon.
Mr. Waldegrave : Yes. We and our European partners have consistently sought the withdrawal from Lebanon of all non-Lebanese troops other than UNIFIL. We fully support the efforts of the Arab League to bring this about.
82. Mr. David Porter : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy towards the Arab League's initiative towards the Lebanon.
21. Mr. Cryer : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had on the removal of barriers by 1992 with other European Economic Community Foreign Ministers ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has reported to the House on the European Council at Madrid on 26-27 June, which reviewed progress on reducing technical and physical barriers within the Community.
58. Miss Lestor : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to ensure that the 1992 programme does not soak up staff resources in the European Commission in areas of shortage of expertise, including the development directorate.
Mrs. Chalker : We shall continue to press for the most effective and efficient use of Commission staff, including flexible deployment and improved career planning, to ensure that staffing levels correspond to the needs arising from the Commission's tasks.
46. Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the impact of the increase in the number of Green party representatives in the European Parliament on progress towards completion of the internal market.
Mr. Eggar : We have received many representations on this subject. During his visit to Hong Kong from 2 to 4 July my right hon. and learned Friend was able to discuss this with the Governor and his advisers, with members of the Executive and Legislative Councils, and with representatives of a wide range of opinion within the Hong Kong community.
Mr. Eggar : My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs discussed the future of Hong Kong with the Australian Prime Minister during his recent visit. We have also been in touch with our Australian and Canadian counterparts who will attend this week's economic summit in Paris. We shall raise the matter there and at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the autumn.
Mr. Eggar : We are playing an active role in meetings of the Steering Committee set up by the international conference on Indo-Chinese refugees in Geneva on 13-14 June to maintain progress on the comprehensive plan of action adopted by the conference. We will seek to ensure, through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, that agreements reached at the Conference are implemented as swiftly as possible and in a balanced way. As part of our contribution, we have agreed to resettle 2,000 Vietnamese refugees from Hong Kong over the next three years.
Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to meet other Foreign Ministers to discuss the problems of international debt ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. and learned Friend has met Foreign Ministers of other countries recently at the OECD Ministerial meeting in June, at a meeting between representatives of EC and eight Latin American countries on 15 April in Grenada, at the European Council meetings in Madrid on 26-27 June and at a number of bilateral meetings. Debt was just one important issue discussed at these meetings. The next occasion may be at the economic summit in Paris on 14 to 16 July.
24. Mr. David Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the conference on security and co-operation in European human rights conference in Paris.
Mr. Waldegrave : The Paris meeting of the CSCE conference on the human dimension saw the thorough examination of implementation by CSCE participating states of their human rights commitments and the tabling of some 36 new proposals. These will be considered at the next meeting of the conference on the human dimension in Copenhagen in June 1990.
Mr. Waldegrave : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs certainly hopes to meet the Polish Foreign Minister again, and expects to do so in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September.
Column 544seize the present opportunity to achieve peace. The Twelve made it clear that the election proposals put forward by Mr. Shamir could contribute to the peace process but that the PLO must participate in negotiations. We fear that the Likud decisions last week, if translated into Israeli Government policy, will make progress much more difficult.
60. Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further action will be taken within the foreseeable future either by the United Kingdom or the Community in pursuance of a settlement of the Palestinian question.
Mr. Waldegrave : The European Council last month appealed to the parties to seize the present opportunity to make progress towards peace and set out the views of the Twelve on how this might be achieved.
But we have noted remarks made by President Menem and Foreign Minister Cavallo during and after the inauguration. We have consistently stressed our readiness to work for more normal relations with Argentina by making progress on practical matters while excluding sovereignty. If the Argentines are now moving towards that position, then a prospect for progress may be opening up.
Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response Her Majesty's Government have made to the offer of President Carlos Menem of Argentina in relation to talks on the resumption of bilateral relations.
We have consistently expressed our readiness to work for more normal relations with Argentina by making progress on practical issues, while excluding sovereignty. If the Argentines are now moving towards that position, then a prospect for progress may be opening up.
It is premature to be talking of a resumption of diplomatic relations ; progress must first be made on removing practical barriers to trade and communications and on rebuilding confidence.
84. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with EEC ministers on events now taking place in China ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : The events in China were discussed by Foreign Ministers of the Twelve on 12 June, when it was agreed that the Presidency should carry out a demarche stressing the Twelve's grave concern at the continuing repression in China. The subject was discussed again at the European Council in Madrid, resulting in the declaration on China of 27 June.
62. Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further representations he has made to the Chinese authorities appealing for commutation of recent death sentences on humanitarian grounds.
Mr. Eggar : On 17 June the EC Twelve made a demarche to the Chinese authorities appealing for clemency for the first persons sentenced to death in connection with the demonstrations. On 21 June the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a statement deeply deploring the first executions and renewing our appeal to the Chinese authorities not to persecute those who had campaigned for their democratic rights. On 27 June the European Council also expressed its dismay and urged that the executions be stopped.
54. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions are currently taking place aimed at achieving a united international stance towards recent developments in the People's Republic of China.
Mr. Eggar : We have kept in close contact with our friends and partners over reactions to events in China. The European Council issued a declaration on China on 27 June. China will also be discussed at the forthcoming economic summit in Paris.
Mr. Eggar : We and our EC partners have firmly condemned the brutal actions of the Chinese Government. I made this plain to the Chinese charge d'affaires on 5 June. On 27 June the European Council adopted a declaration on China which reiterated our condemnation and called on the Chinese authorities to respect human
Column 546rights. In accordance with this declaration, ambassadors representing the Twelve have been instructed to seek the admission of independent observers to attend trials and visit prisons.
31. Mr. Anderson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current policy of Her Majesty's Government on meeting the African National Congress, the United Democratic Front and the South African Government.
90. Mr. Andy Stewart : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what continued pressure the Government is exercising to secure the release of Mr. Nelson Mandela and the lifting of restrictions on the African National Congress.
Mrs. Chalker : We continue to urge the South African Government to release, immediately and unconditionally, Mr. Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and to unban the African National Congress and other political parties.
Mrs. Chalker : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I held talks with Mr. F. W. de Klerk which were friendly and businesslike. They covered a range of issues, notably progress towards Namibian independence and the process of constitutional reform in South Africa. We naturally took the opportunity to express concern for the unconditional release of Mr. Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, the lifting of the state of emergency and many other issues.
33. Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have recently been made to the South African Government with a view to ending apartheid in that country.
Mrs. Chalker : We take every opportunity to encourage change in South Africa leading to the peaceful replacement of apartheid by a non- racial, representative system of government acceptable to all South Africans.
65. Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek an undertaking from the Israeli Government to renounce unlawful violence against the population of areas under Israeli military occupation.
Mr. Waldegrave : British relations with eastern Europe vary from country to country. We have closest relations with countries such as Hungary and Poland which are making substantial steps forward towards freedom and democracy.
38. Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had talks with Prime Minister Bhutto on 6 July in London and with the Pakistan Foreign Minister on 7 July. They discussed a wide range of issues including United Kingdom-Pakistan relations, Afghanistan and other regional developments. My right hon. and learned Friend also made it clear we are looking forward to seeing Pakistan rejoin the Commonwealth.
Mrs. Chalker : We warmly welcome the progress made towards internal reconciliation in Angola, notably the meeting between President dos Santos and Dr. Savimbi on 22 June and the agreement to implement a ceasefire from 24 June. We are urging both sides to respect the ceasefire and to continue to show flexibility in the difficult negotiations that lie ahead.