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Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British soldiers will be involved in NATO peacekeeping duties in Macedonia. [155016]

Mr. Vaz: NATO has no mandate for peacekeeping operations in Macedonia. Some 31 British troops are based in Macedonia as a National Support element in KFOR (Rear).

Parliamentary Questions

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the average response time for answering parliamentary written questions in his Department is; and how many responses have taken more than 24 working days in the last 12 months. [155135]

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Mr. Robin Cook: My Department aims to answer all ordinary written parliamentary questions within five working days and as many named day written parliamentary questions as possible on the day named. The information required to provide the average response time for all written questions could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. In the last 12 months, the FCO took more than 24 days to respond to only three questions out of a total of more than 1,300 written questions answered.

Middle East Peace Process

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to meet representatives of the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority to discuss the United Kingdom's role in assisting the peace process. [155448]

Mr. Wilson: The Government are in frequent contact with Israeli and Palestinian representatives to discuss the situation in the middle east, as well as bilateral issues. I met Nabil Sha'ath, Palestinian Minister for Planning and International Co-operation, in London on 20 March. The Foreign Secretary spoke to Shimon Peres, Israeli Foreign Minister on 21 March. We continue to urge both parties to take steps to resume contacts, rebuild confidence and restart negotiations. We will remain in frequent contact at all levels, acting on our commitment to do all we can to bring about a just comprehensive and lasting peace in the middle east.

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Palestinian Authority regarding the threat posed to the peace process by Hamas. [155450]

Mr. Wilson: The Government condemn all acts of violence in the middle east and call on both parties to take immediate parallel steps to address the current crisis. We are in regular contact with the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel, and urge them to resume security co-operation and to do all in their power to end violence, restrain extremism and minimise incitement and provocations.


Mr. Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to alter his policy on arms exports to Morocco; and if he will make a statement. [155732]

Mr. Wilson: All applications to export, to Morocco, goods on the Military List, which forms Part III of Schedule 1 of the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994 (as amended) are assessed against the consolidated European Union and national arms export licensing criteria, as are such applications for any country. All such applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, taking account of all available information at the time.


Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Iran regarding the eligibility of members of the Christian, Bahai and Jewish faiths holding senior national positions in that country. [155760]

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Mr. Wilson: We and our EU partners regularly raise concerns over human rights issues in Iran, particularly those affecting religious minorities. The Iranian authorities are fully aware that we and our EU partners consider discrimination on religious grounds to be intolerable. Christians and Jews (but not Bahais) have their own representatives in the Majles.

European Councils

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the forthcoming business in the Council of the European Union for April and the major European Union events for the period between 30 April and September. [156543]

Mr. Vaz: To date we have received the detailed agendas for the following Council meetings in April:

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No agendas for the above are available at present.

The following are the principal events in the EU between 1 May and September 2001 (certain relevant events are also included: the table is based on the information available at the date of issue).

DateLocationPrincipal events
7BrusselsECOFIN Council
7BrusselsEmployment and Social Council (possible)
14-15BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
14-15BrusselsIndustry and Energy Council
22-23BrusselsAgriculture Council
28-29BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council
28BrusselsEducation and Youth Council
30BrusselsDevelopment Council
31BrusselsHealth Council
5BrusselsECOFIN Council
5BrusselsInternal market/Consumer Council
7-8BrusselsEnvironment Council
11-12BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
11BrusselsEmployment/Social Affairs Council
15-16GothenbergEuropean Council
18BrusselsFisheries Council (possible)
19-20BrusselsAgriculture Council
19BrusselsECOFIN Council (possible)
21BrusselsCulture Council
25-26BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
26BrusselsResearch Council
27-28BrusselsTransport/Telecommunications Council
6-7BrusselsInformal Employment and Social Affairs Council
10BrusselsECOFIN Council
13-14BrusselsRegional Territories Council (Informal)?
16-17BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
16-17BrusselsGeneral Affairs Council
20BrusselsBudget Council
23-24BrusselsAgriculture Council
14-16BrusselsEnvironment and Transport Council (Informal)
16-18BrusselsAgriculture (Ministerial Informal)
22-23BrusselsECOFIN (Informal)
24-25BrusselsAgriculture Council
27-28BrusselsJustice and Home Affairs Council

(20) There are no Councils scheduled for August

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