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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 8 March 1999

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Economic and Monetary Union

Sir Richard Body: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those hon. Members who are planned to go, or have been, to Sweden to lecture on the single currency and EMU for the British Council. [75130]

Mr. Fatchett: I understand from the British Council that no hon. Members have travelled to Sweden to lecture on the Council's behalf on the single currency and EMU. The Council is organising a conference in Sweden later this month with the title "Outside EMU--North European Perspectives" at which the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) will speak.

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the ministerial visits made to (a) Argentina and (b) Taiwan in 1998. [75020]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: (a) There were six ministerial visits to Argentina in 1998. These were as follows:



    The Minister for Education and Employment visited from 18 to 21 April in connection with educational co-operation.


    The Minister for Transport in London visited from 12 to 14 July in connection with transport co-operation.


    The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd), visited from 2 to 4 August to discuss bilateral relations.


    The Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Minister for the Environment visited from 10 to 13 November for the Climate Control Conference.

(b) The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office visited Taiwan privately from 14 to 20 February 1998, at the invitation of the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, in connection with inward investment opportunities.

Ambassadors and High Commissioners

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many ambassadors and high commissioners there are; how many of them (a) are women, (b) are members of ethnic minorities, (c) have Oxbridge degrees and (d) were educated at public schools; and if he will make a statement. [74880]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: As of 1 March 1999 there were 148 Ambassadors and High Commissioners and High Commissioners/Ambassadors designate. Seven are women. None are members of ethnic minorities. Eighty-four have degrees from Oxford or Cambridge

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universities. Information on the schools they attended is incomplete but at least sixty were educated at private schools and at least fifty-eight were educated at state schools.

Western Sahara

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the UN to be able to conduct a referendum on the future of the Western Sahara. [74872]

Mr. Fatchett: In his report of 11 December 1998 the UN Secretary-General stated that it is the United Nations' intention to hold the referendum in the Western Sahara in December 1999, provided that it receives full co-operation from the parties involved. We fully support the UN in its efforts to achieve this goal and hope that this deadline will be met.

Sierra Leone

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the EU member states that are assessing the need to provide extra funds to Sierra Leone; when he requested them to do so; and what form the invitation took. [75482]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The new £10 million package of British assistance to Sierra Leone was announced by the Foreign Secretary on 2 March 1999, Official Report, columns 895-96. On the same day, we instructed our Embassies and High Commissions to invite not just our partners in the European Union, but around the world, to play their part. Support from other donors could include direct support for ECOMOG, for the Government of Sierra Leone, or for humanitarian or other assistance

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he took the decision to commit up to an additional £10 million from the reserve for Sierra Leone; and over what period of time the sum will be spent. [75481]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The request from the Foreign Secretary for a contribution from the reserve for Sierra Leone was approved by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 18 February. We are inviting others in the international community to follow our lead in providing support to Sierra Leone; the £10 million will be spent as we receive matching new pledges from them.

Rambouillet Talks

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 1 March 1999, Official Report, column 605, for what reasons President Milosevic was not invited to join the Rambouillet talks. [75485]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: The invitation allowed both sides to nominate their representatives at Rambouillet. It is a matter for the Federal Yugoslav and Serbian Governments as to why President Milosevic was not a member of their delegation.

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Africa

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the representatives of the Governments of (a) Angola, (b) Zimbabwe, (c) Namibia, (d) Uganda, (e) the Democratic Republic of Congo and (f) South Africa whom the Minister of State met on his recent visits to the region, indicating the dates of the meetings. [75479]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: As the Prime Minister's Special Envoy I visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries directly or indirectly involved in the conflict from 22-26 February to assess progress in African mediation efforts and to explore what more Britain and the international community may be able to do to support these. I met (a) Deputy Foreign Minister Miranda (24 February), (b) President Mugabe (25 February), (c) Prime Minister Geingob (24 February), (d) President Museveni (26 February), (e) President Kabila (23 February) and (f) Deputy Foreign Minister Pahad (22 February). I also met President Bizimungu and Vice President Kagame of Rwanda (25 February) and the Secretary General of the OAU (26 February).

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those (a) British citizens and (b) British citizens with dual nationality who have been kidnapped in Africa from 1 January 1998 to date, together with (i) the date of the kidnap, (ii) the identity, or suspected identity, of the kidnappers and (iii) the outcome of the kidnaps. [75484]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: Not all kidnappings of British nationals are reported. However, to our knowledge, the following kidnappings have taken place in Africa since 1 January 1998:



    On 14 April 1998, Gordon Hutchinson, Andrew Odell, Mark Edward and Grevill Moteran (British nationals) were held hostage by fellow oil workers in Nigeria. They were released after four days.


    On 11 August 1998, Douglas Kear (joint New Zealand/British national) was abducted, probably by Rwandan Interahamwe rebels, in the eastern Democractic Republic of Congo, along with two Swedes and a Canadian. The Canadian was released on 18 August. The fate of the other three remains unknown.


    On 6 October 1998, Pierre de School-Meester (British national) was abducted by pirates from a ship off the Delta State Coast, Nigeria. He was released unharmed on 12 October 1998.


    On 8 November 1998, following a UNITA attack on a diamond mine in north-east Angola in which two British nationals were killed, Jason Pope (British national) was abducted along with a South African, two Filipinos and several Angolans. Their fate remains unknown.


    On 10 November 1998, Peter John Holgate (British national) was taken hostage with seven other oil rig workers by Ijaw youths in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. All eight were released unharmed on 17 November 1998.


    On 9 February 1999, Jim Simpson (British national) was abducted by local youths in Warri, Nigeria, along with an Italian and a Nigerian. He was released unharmed on 17 February.


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    On 3 March 1999, Ian Lane (British national) was abducted by armed men in Warri, Nigeria. The case has not yet been resolved.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations were made to the Minister of State during his recent visit to Africa concerning the targeting by the Interahamwe of (a) British and (b) American citizens. [75480]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: None.


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