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1. Dr. Godman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he discussed the structure, functions and membership of NATO when he met the US President and Secretary of State. 
Mr. Vaz: When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met Secretary of State Powell in Washington on 6 February both agreed that maintaining NATO as an effective transatlantic military alliance is fundamental to European security.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made it clear in his joint statement with President Bush on 23 February that this Government are committed to a stronger Transatlantic Alliance and that NATO will remain the essential foundation of transatlantic security.
Mr. Wilson: The cycle of violence is undermining the confidence of both sides in the peace process. I am encouraged by Prime Minister Designate Sharon's statement that he plans to continue with the peace process and to ease the conditions for Palestinians. However, the closures in the Occupied Territories breed resentment and fuel violence. The UK continues to urge both sides to take the steps needed to restore calm and re-engage in whole-hearted peace efforts.
35. Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contacts he has had with the Israeli Government and Palestinian authority since the Israeli prime ministerial election. 
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Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the new Israeli Ambassador on 14 February and Prime Minister Sharon's special envoy, Eitan Bentsur, on 15 February. He also met with the Palestinian General Delegate on 15 February.
Mr. Vaz: We have not made representations to the Syrian Government about Alois Brunner. There is general agreement that he is almost certainly dead. Inquiries in recent years by the French and German Governments and by journalists have failed to produce evidence of his whereabouts.
14. Mr. McWilliam: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent talks held in Miami on the border dispute between Guatemala and Belize. 
Mr. Battle: We welcome the talks between Belize and Guatemala held under the auspices of the Organisation of American States (OAS). After a constructive meeting in Miami on 16 and 17 January they signed a Plan of Action to implement an Agreement on Confidence Building Measures which they had agreed in Washington on 8 November 2000.
At further talks in Washington on 5-7 February they agreed a process for addressing the substantive aspects of their border dispute. They have agreed to hold a Ministerial meeting in Washington on 21-23 May.
Mr. Vaz: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Cem in the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Vienna in November. They also met briefly at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels in December, and are both attending the North Atlantic Council in Brussels today. FCO Ministers are also in regular contact with the Turkish Ambassador in London.
16. Mr. Ian Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's role in processing export licences for sales to India; and how many such applications are currently awaiting processing by his Department. 
Mr. Wilson: As an adviser to the DTI, we consider all export licence applications on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national export licensing criteria. In 2000, the FCO processed over 1,200 export licence
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applications for India. As of 20 February, the FCO was considering 34 Standard Individual Export Licence applications for India and 23 Open Individual Export Licences which included India as a destination.
Mr. Wilson: The British Government have excellent relations with the Government of Egypt. UK/Egypt trade relations are also very strong and continue to grow; we are now the largest non-Arab investor in Egypt. I visited Egypt last month.
Mr. Wilson: We have welcomed the recent developments in Kashmir, including the announcement by the Indian Prime Minister on 22 February to extend the ceasefire by Indian security forces until the end of May. We believe this indicates a commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the Kashmir conflict. We hope that the ceasefire, and the Pakistani Government's policy of maximum restraint, will help create the conditions for a settlement to be reached. We call on both Governments to continue to build on the desire for peace in Kashmir and resume their dialogue to find a solution. We also urge the militants to respond positively and end their violence.
20. Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations his Department has received from other Governments regarding recruitment on behalf of the NHS of staff in their countries. 
Mr. Wilson: The recruitment of staff for the NHS is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and his Department. However, we have received a number of representations on the international recruitment of medical staff as part of our normal bilateral dialogues with other countries.
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Recruiting medical staff from around the world to help improve the NHS presents an opportunity further to encourage international co-operation and exchange. But we also need to ensure that this recruitment does not undermine local health care systems in developing countries. The 1999 NHS Guidance on International Recruitment states that NHS employers should not actively recruit from developing countries that are experiencing shortages of their own.
21. Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps (a) the UK and (b) the European Union are taking to tackle environmental pollution and nuclear contamination problems in the former Soviet central Asian republics. 
Mr. Battle: We are aware that water quality is one of the major environmental problems in Central Asia. The UK, in co-operation with other international donors, is encouraging improved regional water co-operation. We will also be supporting a project in the Nura-Ishim river basin in Kazakhstan to reduce industrial pollution levels.
We will be supporting a £600,000 project to produce a land use plan for the nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. We are also considering funding a decommissioning plan for the Aktau Nuclear Power Plant, and UK experts are transferring technical know-how to the plant.
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