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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 8 May 2000

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Congo (Zimbabwean Forces)

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the deployment of Zimbabwean forces in protecting mining interests in the Congo; and who owns those interests. [120868]

Mr. Hain: We have seen reports that the Zimbabwean Defence Forces are deployed in areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which contain the main diamond fields and reserves of copper and cobalt. We understand that exploitation of diamonds is principally carried out by the Societe Miniere de Bakwanga (MIBA), and production of copper and cobalt by GECAMINES. Both of these companies are substantially DRC state-owned, but there are reports that they have entered into joint venture with various partners. There are also reports that the Zimbabwean Defence Force has set up a company called OSLEG Private Limited, which includes capital provided by private investors, to exploit DRC's mineral reserves.

Zimbabwe

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his oral statement of 3 May 2000, Official Report, columns 149-50, if he will list the dates of his meetings with the previous Secretary-General of the Commonwealth to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe. [121202]

Mr. Hain: Neither my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary nor I spoke to the previous Commonwealth Secretary General following the onset of the recent wave of illegal farm occupations in Zimbabwe.

Iran

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communication he has had with the Iranian Foreign Minister regarding the timing of his visit to Iran; and if he raised the issue of legal proceedings concerning members of the Jewish community in Shiraz in the course of that communication. [121213]

Mr. Hain: The Iranian authorities are well aware of our concerns about the trial of 13 members of the Jewish community on espionage charges in Shiraz. The Foreign Secretary made these clear to Dr. Kharrazi personally when he visited London in January. We and our EU partners have raised our concerns on many occasions, most recently in the form of a demarche by the EU Presidency in Tehran on 29 April. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the Foreign Secretary's visit to Tehran has

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been postponed from 8/9 May to 4/5 July. The Foreign Secretary spoke briefly to Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi on 29 April in order to postpone this visit.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 17 April 2000, Official Report, columns 396-97W, what assessment he has made of recent developments in the legal proceedings concerning members of the Jewish community in Shiraz, Iran, with particular reference to the case of Hamid Tefilin; what representations have been made to the Government of Iran about the decision to hold the trial in camera and about the proceedings in general; what steps have been taken by the Government to monitor the trial; and if he will make a statement. [121141]

Mr. Hain: We and our EU partners have raised our concerns about the detention and trial of a number of Iranians including 13 members of the Iranian Jewish community in Shiraz on espionage charges with the Iranian authorities on a number of occasions, most recently in the form of a demarche by the EU Presidency in Tehran on 29 April.

Our Embassy in Tehran is working closely with our EU partners and other like-minded embassies to ensure that events in Shiraz are monitored closely. We are aware of reports emanating from Hamid Tefilin's defence counsel that Mr. Tefilin has confessed to being trained to spy for Israel, but that he has not carried out any espionage activity. We shall continue to monitor events closely.

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Iranian authorities over the banning of newspapers and magazines. [121136]

Mr. Hain: We and our EU partners have been following closely events in Iran. We note that the editors of the newspapers and magazines that have been banned are avoiding public comment and urging their supporters to follow suit in an effort to maintain calm.

Sanctions (Serbia and Iraq)

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations at the UN to allow sanctions against (a) Serbia and (b) Iraq to be lifted on goods relating to bona fide scientific and technological work essential to food testing and civil manufacturing industry. [121079]

Mr. Hain: UN Security Council resolution 1160 (1998) imposed an embargo on the supply of arms and related material to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and a ban on arming and training for terrorist activities there. There are no other UN sanctions measures in force in relation to Serbia.

Under the current terms of the "Oil-for-Food" programme, established by Security Council resolution 986, Iraq can sell unlimited quantities of oil to buy a wide range of humanitarian goods, including the kind of equipment mentioned in the question. Iraq is expected to raise $10 billion this year from oil sales. Each contract is checked to ensure that the goods will be used for their stated purpose.

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EU Enlargement

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to "IGC: Reform for Enlargement, Cm 4595", what study has been made by (a) Her Majesty's Government and (b) the European Union of the political consequences of admission to the European Union of parts of former Yugoslavia; by whom it was made; and if its conclusions have been published. [121061]

Mr. Vaz: The Government's (and European Union's) overall objective is the fullest possible integration of the countries of the Western Balkans into the political and economic mainstream of Europe. No formal study has been made of the political consequences of admission to the European Union of parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to "IGC: Reform for Enlargement, Cm 4595", in relation to the adoption of the Acquis of the Community, what permanent or temporary derogations are planned to be made to any applicant state in respect of (a) the Common Fisheries Policy, (b) the Common Agricultural Policy and (c) participation in the Cohesion Fund. [121077]

Mr. Vaz: It is too early in the accession negotiations to predict the extent of any derogations.

Negotiations on Fisheries have started with six applicant countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia). The EU Common Positions agreed for these negotiations make clear that all new member states will be expected to apply the Common Fisheries Policy in full.

Negotiations have also started on Regional Policy with these countries. But their participation in the Cohesion Funds will not be determined until later in the negotiations.

We expect negotiations on Agriculture with these countries to begin in June this year.

Iraqi Oil Sanction Breaches

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 2 May 2000, Official Report, column 67W, on Iraqi oil, if he has asked the (a) Council of Ministers and (b) European Commission to put pressure on Turkey to bring the trade in Iraqi oil across its borders into the UN humanitarian programme; what was the volume of oil in metric tonnes sold through the UN programme in (i) 1999 and (ii) 2000 to date; and what was the estimated value in (1) 1999 and (2) 2000 to date of Iraqi oil sold (x) through the UN programme and (y) in breach of sanctions. [121054]

Mr. Hain: We have discussed measures to cut down on oil smuggling including through Turkey with the other members of the Security Council which includes two fellow members of the European Union.

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The estimated value of illegal oil exports in 1999 was $250 million and in 2000 to date $170 million. As I pointed out in my answer of 2 May, the UK is making every effort to reduce this illegal trade,.

UN statistics for the volume of oil sold under the "oil for food" arrangements are provided for each six month phase and in barrels. For phase V (26 November 1998 to 25 May 1999) the volume of oil sold was 360.8 million barrels worth $3.95 billion. For phase VI (25 May 1999 to 11 December 1999) the volume of oil sold was 389.6 million barrels worth $7.4 billion. Under the present phase (phase VII) the volume of oil sold up to 28 April was 244.7 million barrels worth $5.79 billion. Phase VII ends on 7 June.


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