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Mr. Hain: We and our EU partners regularly press the Iranian authorities over our concerns about human rights issues in Iran. The Foreign Secretary raised human rights matters with his counterpart Dr. Kamal Kharrazi when they met in New York on 15 September, and also
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with the Iranian Ambassador to London on 4 October. I too discussed these issues with Ambassador Sarmadi on 19 October.
Mr. Hain: The Jewish community in Iran is represented, as are other minorities, by a member in the Majles, and Judaism is among the religions recognised by the Constitution. Jewish Iranians are free to run businesses and enjoy their own culture, although the right to take public office is circumscribed.
However, we remain concerned at the sentencing of 10 Jews and two Muslims in the Shiraz trial. We have throughout the trial raised our concerns about the nature of the proceedings. We hope that the Iranian Judiciary will show clemency.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution he is seeking to make to the resolution of conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. 
Mr. Vaz: My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and I are committed to supporting all efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's extended visit to the region was part of the intensive international efforts which led to the Sharm el-Sheikh summit on 16-17 October. The agenda agreed there, for disengagement by both sides, an end to violence and a return to peace talks remains the focus for all as we work with others to end this crisis. My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and I are maintaining close contact with the parties.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the current state of relations between (a) China and Taiwan and (b) North and South Korea. 
Mr. Battle: (a) China and Taiwan: We monitor developments in relations across the Taiwan Straits closely. Since the election of Chen Shui bian both sides have shown evidence of restraint in their rhetoric and actions, although they have not yet been able to reach any consensus over the "One China" issue which might enable them to resume direct dialogue. We continue to encourage
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dialogue between the two sides and we are strongly opposed to the use of force in resolving the question of Taiwan's status.
(b) We have expressed our strong support for the President of South Korea Kim Dae-Jung's policy of engagement aimed at peace and reconciliation between North and South Korea. We are pleased that both sides are committed to implementing the results of June's Summit and we welcome the people-to-people links that have taken place, including family reunions and co-operation between the North and South Korean teams at the opening of the Sydney Olympics. A series of political and military meetings between both sides is under way. Work has also begun on re-establishing a rail link between North and South Korea across the Demilitarised Zone.
The engagement process has been given further impetus by the recent US/North Korea negotiations, notably Ms Albright's visit to Pyongyang. There remain many serious issues, including missile proliferation, nuclear matters and human rights, to be discussed and addressed. But progress since the June summit has been encouraging.
Mr. Hain: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had a number of discussions with Zimbabwean politicians from both the main political parties, including several telephone conversations with the president of the Movement for Democratic Change. More recently, I met members of the MDC Executive on 26 October.
Mr. Hain: The Government's strategy towards Sierra Leone was set out in the Foreign Secretary's statement on 6 June. That strategy remains unchanged. Our objective is to ensure that the people of Sierra Leone are offered a realistic prospect of peace and stability, and are freed from the violence of a brutal rebel minority.
On 10 October Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean announced in another place a further package of UK support to the Sierra Leone Army, and to the UN peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone. UK assistance will help the Government of Sierra Leone establish effective and accountable armed forces.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the subject areas which are expected to be on the agenda for negotiations at the Nice Intergovernmental Conference. 
Mr. Vaz: The Feira European Council on 19 and 20 June clarified the IGC agenda. It remains focused on the institutional changes necessary for enlargement. The main issues are the size and composition of the
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the subsidiarity and proportionality protocol in the Treaty of Amsterdam. 
Mr. Vaz: The Government regard subsidiarity as a key principle, and support the Amsterdam protocol, which sets out in detail how it is applied. It is too early to make a full assessment of the concrete results of the protocol, as it has only been in force for one year. But the Government are confident that it will be effective because it is legally enforceable, and should therefore help deter the bringing forward of proposals which breach the principle. The better the protocol works, the less we will see it.
Mr. Battle: The Government condemn terrorism in all its forms, by whomever or wherever it is committed. In the light of a number of terrorist attacks in recent years attributable to Islamic extremists, the Government take this threat seriously.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy was in relation to (a) the imposition of, and (b) the lifting of sanctions against Austria. 
Mr. Vaz: The measures were introduced in February by Austria's EU partners to send a clear signal of our concern at the inclusion of a far-right party in the Austrian Government. I shared the analysis in the 8 September report by the Wise Men that the measures had been successful in influencing the Austrian Government to uphold common democratic values and in energising Austrian civil society, but that the measures would become counterproductive if continued. The Government therefore decided, together with our other EU partners, to lift the measures on 12 September, while remaining vigilant in relation to the Freedom Party.
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Mr. Vaz: We have repeatedly expressed our concern to the Russian authorities about these allegations. We have seen no credible evidence to support their claims. HALO's sole purpose in Chechnya was to train Chechen civilians in humanitarian mine clearance, as they have done elsewhere.
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