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5. Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries): If he will raise the issue of HIV-AIDS in the developing world at the next G8 summit in Japan. [104192]

9. Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow): What plans he has to ensure that the G8 summit in Japan will discus the impact that HIV-AIDS is having on the developing world. [104196]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Hain): Health and, in particular, HIV-AIDS is one of the issues on which we place priority for this year's G8 summit at Okinawa. We are working with the Japanese presidency and G8 partners to get it high on the agenda.

Mr. Brown: I am sure that my hon. Friend would agree that, across the African continent, there is a wide variation in the way in which different Governments tackle the issue of HIV and AIDS. For example, in Uganda, some excellent work is going on. However, in other countries, there is serious concern that the money that should have gone into HIV and AIDS programmes is being diverted into other areas. Will my hon. Friend ensure that the good practice that is being seen in certain countries is promoted in others, especially in countries where we suspect that Governments are not taking the issue as seriously as we would hope?

Mr. Hain: Yes, I shall certainly do that. My hon. Friend raises an excellent point. In Uganda, I visited at Entebbe a health centre financed in part by the British Government that is helping to drive forward an excellent programme. Its importance compared with other countries in Africa is that the Ugandan President has put himself at the head of the campaign. As a result of imaginative measures, such as pop songs, condom distribution, billboards and other initiatives, the rate of infection in Uganda is at last slowing. That is certainly not the case elsewhere in Africa.

Mr. Gerrard: May I welcome the lead that the Government have given, the money that has been committed over the next three years and, especially, the £14 million that has been given to the international AIDS vaccine initiative? Will my hon. Friend encourage other G8 countries to take similar action, so that we have a common approach that recognises the devastating economic impact of HIV as well as the health aspects? Will he also raise at the summit the question of how we ensure that, in the future, people in developing countries have access to new treatments and that we do not have a

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repetition of the problems that were faced in South Africa last year, when pharmaceutical companies tried to stop the compulsory licensing of drugs by the South African Government?

Mr. Hain: Again, my hon. Friend makes excellent points with which I agree. I stress his point about the economic impact of AIDS. In Zimbabwe, for example, one in four adults is infected. That is hitting not just ordinary people, but those right at the top of the country and it will have a devastating effect on the country's future professional life and economic expertise.

That is why the Prime Minister's initiative at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference last November, to which my hon. Friend referred indirectly, and Vice-President Gore's initiative last week when he called for war on AIDS at the United Nations security conference, are so much to be welcomed.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, while the important matter of HIV-AIDS will be dealt with at the G8 conference as a discrete matter, the G8 should take care also to recognise the many other serious diseases by which poorer countries in particular are afflicted? Does he agree that the G8, which must on occasion be one of the smuggest gatherings that the world could ever see, has a duty to recognise that prosperity and health are the only ways in which some poorer countries will struggle out of the serious position in which they find themselves?

Mr. Hain: The hon. Gentleman makes such a convincing case that he should perhaps cross the Floor, as some of his colleagues have done. I agree that epidemics, such as malaria in some parts of Africa, are a bigger challenge than AIDS and should be high on the G8 agenda, and that the G8 should take its responsibilities seriously, not least because, ultimately, widespread epidemics in the developing world threaten our security, environmental and health interests in the west.

Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park): Does the Minister agree that conflict and civil war are great factors in the spread of HIV and AIDS, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa? When will he do something about the activities of arms brokers which fuel those wars and continue the agony in Africa?

Mr. Hain: Again, the hon. Lady makes a point that I agree with. We have taken a series of initiatives--for example, we have pressed the Ukrainian Government to tackle their arms dealers to ensure that they stop supplying areas of conflict in Africa, including Angola in the form of supplies to UNITA. We need to keep pressing that case, and our policy is in complete contrast to that of the Conservative Government, who seemed to want to encourage the sale of arms to just about everybody in sight.


6. Kali Mountford (Colne Valley): What recent representations he has received concerning Indian policy towards Kashmir. [104193]

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Hain): We have received many letters and representations, and we take every opportunity to urge a just and lasting solution to Kashmir. Only last week, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met his Indian counterpart and, during my visit to India in November, I also raised the matter at the highest level. We shall continue to press both India and Pakistan.

Kali Mountford: Is it not correct that people in Kashmir are suffering greatly because of cross-border terrorism and that the tension is increased by the presence of troops? Is it not now time, notwithstanding the problems with the Pakistani Government, to reiterate the Foreign Secretary's call on the Pakistani and Indian Governments to return to dialogue before the conflict worsens?

Mr. Hain: Yes, it is. We want the Lahore process to be resumed as soon as possible, and it would be in the interests of the leadership in both Delhi and Islamabad to do so. I agree strongly with my hon. Friend that Pakistani cross-border terrorism is proving to be an enormous threat to the stability of Kashmir. We look to General Musharraf, as the Chief of the Defence Staff told him on his visit last week, to make sure that, under his regime, such terrorism stops. We particularly look to General Musharraf, who is widely seen as the author of the Kargil incident last year, to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey): Is there any sign, perhaps in the Minister's talks in India or the Foreign Secretary's visits, that the parties concerned are prepared to meet under the provisions of the Simla agreement to discuss the future of Kashmir? If they were to do so, would the United Kingdom be prepared to chair such a conference, bearing in mind that it was our premature withdrawal from India--six months early--which denied the people of Kashmir the plebiscite on their future, and has led to the difficulties, which have existed now for over half a century?

Mr. Hain: We have made it clear that we stand ready to help in the resolution of the Kashmiri conflict, provided that India and Pakistan jointly ask us to do so. Our role would depend on their invitation. In any case, it is essential, notwithstanding the recent tensions between the two countries, that they start talking because, over Kargil in particular, there was a danger of a massive conflict erupting. Given that both countries are nuclear powers, that could have been extremely dangerous.

Africa (Conflict Resolution)

7. Ms Joan Ryan (Enfield, North): What recent discussions he has had with the United States over conflict resolution in Africa. [104194]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Peter Hain): In Washington and New York last month, I had discussions with members of the United States Administration, including the Assistant Secretary

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for Africa, Susan Rice, and the American ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke. Topics included Angola, Sierra Leone and the Great Lakes.

Ms Ryan: I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Having had such meetings, he must be aware that private companies, private individuals and other countries are breaking United Nations sanctions by supplying fuel and other goods to Angola, as we have heard already, thus helping to perpetuate a war that is causing much devastation and misery. That is unacceptable. Will my hon. Friend tell the House what the Government will be doing about this situation?

Mr. Hain: I agree with my hon. Friend. It is vital that private individuals and companies engaged in breaking the law by deliberately breaching UN sanctions on UNITA are stopped. I can inform the House that we are referring to the UN sanctions committee today, and its expert panels, the details of three such individuals, which we hope they will be able to follow up.

It is widely known in the region that Jacques "Kiki" Lemaire flies in diesel fuel, landing on UNITA airstrips in a Boeing 707 or Caravelle aircraft. Tony Teixeira has been supplying diesel fuel to UNITA, again flying it in by plane. Victor Bout, who runs an air transport company, has flown in arms to UNITA. It is also believed that Bout owns or charters an Ilyushin 76 aircraft, which was impounded in Zambia en route to Angola last year.

Mr. Bowen Wells (Hertford and Stortford): Why did the Minister not include Sudan on the list of those countries which he discussed with his United States counterparts last week? What steps do the Government propose to take in trying to resolve the appalling conditions in southern Sudan and to resolve the civil war there? The population is literally starving to death and HIV-AIDS is rampant. Surely this must be the year that the Government determine to take an initiative, and to make a real effort, to try to solve the problem.

Mr. Hain: I did indeed discuss Sudan, along with many other African countries, with the United States Administration. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that it is vital that the civil conflict or war is resolved early. We are supporting the EGAD process, and we are in discussions with the Egyptians on their initiative, to ensure that we make every effort to end an unremitting conflict that has so devastated Sudan.

Mr. Bruce Grocott (Telford): Does my hon. Friend agree that there is always a risk that a long-standing, long-running tragedy, such as the war in Angola, can often be forgotten or overlooked when flashpoints occur elsewhere? The origins of the war in Angola were closely related to the evils of apartheid in South Africa, which have now thankfully been brought to an end. With my hon. Friend's special knowledge of South Africa, will he ensure that, in his conversations with his counterparts in the United States and elsewhere, he will not allow the conflict in Angola, which has continued for more than a

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generation, to slip in any way on the international agenda? We owe it to all to bring the suffering in that country to an end.

Mr. Hain: I shall certainly be discussing the matter with the South African Government when I visit that country at the end of the month. I give high priority, as surely the whole House should, to ensuring that the dreadful conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and which has been fomented by Jonas Savimbi's UNITA, is ended quickly. Countries in Europe and the United States and countries in Africa, especially those neighbouring Angola, can bring the conflict to an end if there is the will to do so. With fuel and arms being flown in, sanctions are being breached almost daily. If UN sanctions are to mean anything, they must bite. Britain is determined that they should do so.

Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham): The Minister, with his great knowledge of Africa, will know that increasingly sinister alliances are being attracted. For example, the Congo is buying Scud missiles from Iran and President Kabila is having his troops trained by the North Koreans. In the United Kingdom, the smuggling of missile components to Libya that would extend the range of their missiles has been discovered.

In the light of the escalating threat from Africa, what discussions has the Minister had with the Americans about the positioning of a missile defence shield in Europe? As the United States carries out its anti-ballistic missile tests over the Pacific today, does he agree that we should be increasing our support and co-operation with the United States, in the interests of our own security?

Mr. Hain: I admire the hon. Lady's ingenuity in extending the question. We are in regular dialogue with our colleagues in Washington and elsewhere in the US about our commitment, as a Labour Government, to nuclear disarmament and to making sure that we rid the world of the threat to global security posed by weapons of mass destruction. We will continue to pursue that dialogue to ensure that our objectives are achieved.

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