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Nuclear Tests (South Asia)

6. Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley): What recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Pakistan and Indian Governments in connection with their nuclear tests. [44518]

9. Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury): If he will make a statement on the discussions he has had with the Indian and Pakistan Governments in relation to nuclear tests. [44522]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Derek Fatchett): We have had a number of discussions with the Pakistan and Indian high commissions in London and with other representatives of their Governments. This morning, I had a meeting here in London with the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Mr. Pike: When the Foreign Secretary was with his colleagues in the G8 last week, were they able to agree on joint steps to persuade Pakistan and India that there should be no more tests, that moves should take place towards non-proliferation and that they should address the roots of the problems between the two nations, including the problem of Kashmir?

Mr. Fatchett: The G8 Ministers meeting last week succeeded in reaching those agenda conclusions. In particular, we urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to sign the non-proliferation and test ban treaties. We also made a point that I made to the Pakistan Prime Minister this morning--that it is crucial for us to enter a dialogue with India and Pakistan so that they can deal with the fundamental issues that have divided them over the past 50 years. Resolving the Kashmir issue is an important part of that agenda.

Mr. Robertson: As the testing has serious implications for the environment, for peace and indeed for trade, will the Minister clarify press statements that India is prepared to sign up to some parts of the test ban treaty? If no progress can be made, will he assure the House that he will take every possible step to ask the United Nations Security Council to take whatever measures may be necessary?

Mr. Fatchett: The hon. Gentleman mentions the position that has been taken by the Indian Government--that they would be willing to consider signing up to parts of the non-proliferation treaty. That is unacceptable to the permanent five and the G8. We have made that view clear to India. We cannot have an a la carte approach to the non-proliferation treaty. The same message has been delivered to Pakistan.

The hon. Gentleman mentions UN involvement. The P5 has already been involved in those issues and, through senior officials we established at last week's G8 meeting, there will be continued monitoring of progress and developments. We will consider what further action has to be taken.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North): I support what my hon. Friend has said about condemning the tests

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conducted by both India and Pakistan, but does he not think that the position of the big five nuclear powers in that condemnation would be stronger if they were seen to be actively disarming and disabling their nuclear weapons? If we want to live, as we all do, in a nuclear-free world, perhaps we should make a start in that direction.

Mr. Fatchett: It is crucial that we continue the nuclear disarmament talks. The Government have taken a responsible and active role in that approach and will continue to do so. I am sure that my hon. Friend agrees that the security of ordinary people in south Asia has in no way been helped by the nuclear explosions detonated by the Governments of India and Pakistan. In many ways, those people are more insecure and more impoverished as a result of the actions that have been taken by their Governments.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey): Will the Minister confirm that these tests mean that the Indian state of Kashmir is surrounded by nuclear powers: India, Pakistan and the People's Republic of China? Will he acknowledge that the problem--that is what it is--of Kashmir arose under an earlier Labour Administration? Will he confirm that the Government will make every effort to ensure that Kashmir is on the UN Security Council's agenda so that the people of Kashmir can be granted the plebiscite on their future that they have been denied for the past 50 years?

Mr. Fatchett: I know that the hon. Gentleman has a genuine interest in the issue of Kashmir and in the welfare of its people. We recognise that Kashmir is at the heart of the continuing difficulties between India and Pakistan. If we are to improve the relationship between the two countries, we have to address the problems that are created by the status of Kashmir.

Great Lakes

7. Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley): What steps his Department is taking to help bring stability to the great lakes region of Africa. [44519]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Tony Lloyd): I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that the Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), gave a few minutes ago concerning the EU troika visit to the great lakes region. The troika urged regional leaders to pursue negotiated solutions to their problems and to avoid any recourse to the use of violence. Bilaterally, we are currently providing financial assistance to the Burundi peace talks, which are due to convene in Arusha from 15 June. We are also funding a number of initiatives in the justice sector in Rwanda and are the largest bilateral donor to United Nations human rights field operations in the region. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the EU and the UK are supporting, both financially and politically, the democratic transition process.

Mr. Barron: Will my hon. Friend expand on what steps the Government are taking to support the international tribunal for Rwanda? Does he agree that before reconciliation can take place in that country the

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people who perpetrated the genocide in that part of Africa need to be brought to justice? That must happen before there can be reconciliation between the Tutsis and Hutus.

Mr. Lloyd: My hon. Friend is right that the process of reconciliation depends absolutely on justice being not only seen to be done, but put into proper operation. That is why this Government, along with many others, are making significant contributions to the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda, which is sitting in Arusha.

We have not only provided £400,000 as our assessed contribution to the tribunal, but seconded two British police officers to help with the investigation. We are also specifically sponsoring a programme of visits by magistrates, social workers and non-governmental organisations from Rwanda to the tribunal so that they can see that the justice process is taking place.

We also welcomed the recent guilty plea by the former Rwandan Prime Minister, which has moved the process on. I can tell my hon. Friend that we shall continue to support the tribunal--which itself provides a good prelude to an international criminal court, the basis of which is now being discussed in Rome. Such a court will be another important step on the road to international justice.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): The Minister will know that the United Kingdom has unique experience of Africa and that we probably have greater knowledge and experience of it than any other country in the world. Bearing in mind that experience and our continuing involvement with the Governments of many countries that have recently gained independence, does the Minister think that the countries with which we have been involved will be able to have any influence in the countries of the great lakes region in establishing law and a meaningful form of democratic government that will be acceptable to the people of Africa as a whole?

Mr. Lloyd: The answer, of course, is yes. Some of the states in the great lakes region are playing a very constructive role in the region. Specifically, the regional powers have brought to bear enormous pressure on the Government of Burundi to persuade them to enter a meaningful internal dialogue with the national assembly. That pressure has now resulted in a negotiated process in Arusha. I should pay tribute to former President Nyerere of Tanzania, whose individual contribution to the process has perhaps been more significant than that of anyone else. He is helping the talks reach a successful conclusion. The region, and the world, will owe him a debt.

Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham): The stability of the great lakes region is inextricably linked to political developments throughout the area, and current events continue to highlight the region's fragility and vulnerability. In the light of natural concerns about the consequences of future political change, will the Minister tell us the Government's attitude towards the multi-democracy movement in Uganda?

Mr. Lloyd: I should like first to welcome the hon. Lady to her new responsibilities. I am sure that this is not the last time that we shall exchange views across the Dispatch Box. [Hon. Members: "Oh!"] Well, I trust that she will be on the Opposition Front Bench again. She raised a very important point. There are many views on evolution of

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the democratic process on the African continent. Some time ago, when I was in Uganda, I made it clear that we favour an electoral process being established whereby the Ugandan people are sovereign, those who wish to stand for election are able to do so and the people of Uganda are able to vote for the candidate of their choice. I am sure that all hon. Members will endorse those principles.

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