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Iran

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about Iran's refusal to accept David Reddaway as Britain's new ambassador. [36589]

Mr. Bradshaw: We regret Iran's refusal to accept David Reddaway as our ambassador to Tehran. The absence of an ambassador in Tehran will obviously inhibit the extent to which we are able to engage the Iranian authorities.

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Britain's relations with Iran. [36577]

Mr. Bradshaw: The UK, through critical engagement, aims to support reform in Iran while maintaining a robust dialogue on issues of concern. Iran's refusal to accept David Reddaway as our ambassador has however had an impact on the conduct of our bilateral relations.

Indo-UK Peacekeeping Seminar

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent Indo-UK peacekeeping seminar held in India. [36556]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Indo-UK seminar on peacekeeping was held at the Centre for UN peacekeeping in New Delhi on 7 to 8 February 2002. The seminar followed on from a Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre hosted seminar in Shrivenham in March 2001. Peacekeeping operations are an area in which both India and the UK have a wealth of experience to share. Both

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sides are keen to maintain a regular dialogue on the conceptual and operational aspects of UN peacekeeping operations.

Spain

Syd Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when (a) he and (b) his Ministers next plan to visit Spain. [36533]

Peter Hain: The Foreign Secretary and I will accompany the Prime Minister to the Barcelona European Council from 15 to 16 March. My noble Friend Baroness Symons plans to attend an EU Trade Ministers meeting in Toledo on 18 March and the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw), will attend a conference in Granada on 28 February.

Non-Proliferation Treaty Review

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the Government are planning to put forward to the preparatory meeting of the non-proliferation treaty review in April, in respect of the management of (a) surplus stockpiled fissile material and (b) fissile material obtained from decommissioned nuclear warheads. [36468]

Mr. Bradshaw: The UK continues to support the statement in the final document of the 2000 non- proliferation treaty review conference that one of the practical steps for a systematic and progressive effort to implement Article VI of the treaty is


The UK has already placed the vast majority of the fissile material it declared under the Strategic Defence Review as no longer required for defence purposes under Euratom and IAEA safeguards. The UK has also indicated its readiness to contribute £70 million over 10 years to support the US/Russian plutonium disposition agreement, under which each side will dispose of 34 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium.

South Pacific Islands

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) embassies, (b) high commissions, (c) consulates and (d) trade and investment offices his Department has in (i) the Federated States of Micronesia, (ii) the Solomon Islands, (iii) the Marshall Islands, (iv) Nauru, (v) Kiribati, (vi) Tuvalu, (vii) Vanuatu, (viii) Fiji, (ix) Tonga, (x) Palau and (xi) Samoa; what the staff numbers are for each; and if he will make a statement. [37296]

Mr. MacShane: The UK has High Commission offices in Fiji, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, and also in Papua New Guinea. The number of staff (including both UK-based and locally engaged staff) in each is as follows.

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Fiji18
Kiribati1
Papua New Guinea12
Solomon Islands6
Tonga4
Vanuatu9(5)

(5) Three part-time.


The Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu are covered by our High Commission in Fiji, and Samoa by our High Commission in Wellington.

We value our links with the island states of the South Pacific and are committed to working with them, particularly where we have resident representation, towards enhanced economic sustainability and governance, and stronger civil society. Our opening of a High Commission office in Kiribati in January has strengthened our ability to do this.

FCO Telecommunications Network

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answers of 12 February 2002, Official Report, columns 162–63W, on the FCO Telecommunications network, at how many missions the Foreign and Commonwealth Office telecommunications network has installed both telephone systems and network connections; what progress was made in the first two weeks of February 2002 towards the target for February 2002; and if he will make a statement. [37069]

Mr. MacShane: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office telecommunications network (FTN) provides two main services for our Diplomatic missions overseas. One is connection to a telecommunications network; the second is the provision of a telephone system (PBX). Progress with implementation of these services against the February target is as shown:

Telephone systemsNetwork connectionsTotal installation
Target for February 200271320
Installations achieved 1–14 February 2002 3710
On target for February 2002?YesYesYes

Notes:

1. Telephone system installed at Los Angeles Consulate-General, Doha Visa Section and Doha Embassy.

2. Network connections to posts at Tel Aviv, Bucharest, Athens, Barcelona, Alicante, Bilbao and Lisbon.


Argentina

Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he has taken to protect British interests affected by the financial crisis in Argentina. [37214]

Mr. MacShane: The Government are concerned about the situation in Argentina and are in regular touch with those British companies affected. We want Argentina to deal with foreign investors transparently and without discrimination. We are pressing the Argentine Government to do this, through the IMF and the EU, as well as through our Embassy in Buenos Aires. Qualifying British

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investments in Argentina are protected by certain safeguards under the UK/Argentina Investment, Promotion and Protection Agreement, which provides a mechanism for companies to resolve disputes with the Argentine authorities, should the need arise.

Taliban Prisoners

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what status has been applied to UK citizens detained in Cuba for alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda activities. [37806]

Mr. Bradshaw: It is for the US as the detaining power in the first instance to take a view on status depending on the facts of each individual case. The US authorities said in their statement of 7 February that they have no doubt that the Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees are not prisoners of war, and that the Geneva Convention requires a tribunal only where there is any doubt.

They also confirmed that, notwithstanding the question of status, all detainees would continue to be treated humanely and consistently with the principles of the Geneva conventions.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under what circumstances he will confirm the names of UK citizens as being held in (a) Cuba and (b) Afghanistan for alleged associations with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. [37711]

Mr. Bradshaw: The names of UK nationals detained in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay are confirmed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office only when we are satisfied that the information is correct and the next of kin have been informed.

LNM Group

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he was informed of the attempt by the LNM Group to acquire Sidex. [37933]

Peter Hain: The Secretary of State's Private Office were informed of LNM's bid on 19 July 2001 when routinely processing the draft letter for the Prime Minister to send to the Romanian Prime Minister. The Secretary of State learnt of it himself when being briefed for the 5–8 November 2001 visit to the UK of the Romanian Prime Minister.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how he assesses the national interest in deciding whether to support attempts by companies or individuals to acquire assets overseas; which other Ministers are consulted during that assessment; and (a) whether and (b) how such an assessment was made of the attempt by the LNM Group to acquire Sidex. [37928]

Mr. MacShane: Each case is considered on its merits, in conjunction with other Departments where appropriate. Such consideration will take account of the overall potential benefit to the UK, including its effect on British commercial, economic and foreign policy interests. This approach applied to the acquisition by the LNM Group of Sidex.

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