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Mr. Rammell: The Great Lakes are dominated by the DRC and Burundi conflicts. The Pretoria Agreement (30 July) has seen Rwandan forces leave DRC. The DRC Government must now deal with the anti-Rwandan militia in DRC, and agree a transitional Government with the rebels (MLC and RCD-Goma).
In Burundi, South African and Tanzanian mediation has sought a ceasefire between the Government and the FDD/FNL rebels. Agreement was reached on 3 December with the FDD. Questions remain on how this will be implemented and the implications for the FNL.
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24. Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on proposals to alter the basic law on Hong Kong, with particular reference to Article 23. 
Mr. Rammell: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has published outline proposalsbut not yet draft legislationon implementing Article 23. We have made clear to them that any legislation should be consistent with the principles of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong and the two UN human rights covenants.
25. Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Bangladeshi Government over religious persecution in that country. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Our High Commission in Dhaka monitor closely reports of human rights abuses in Bangladesh. They have raised allegations of attacks against minorities on several occasions with the Bangladesh Government, both at a senior level in Dhaka and with regional government officials, encouraging them to investigate all allegations fully. This issue was also included in discussions in October between the visiting UK branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and senior members of the Bangladesh Government. The High Commissioner was present.
27. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the way commercial oil interests would be affected by a war against Iraq. 
Mr. Rammell: No decision has been taken to launch military action against Iraq. However, if military action were to occur, we do not believe that the loss of Iraqi oil supplies, even for an extended period of time, would significantly disrupt the fundamental balance of supply and demand in the world market.
Mr. Rammell: We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet. We welcome, however, the releases this year of several Tibetan prisoners, including Ngawang Choepel, Chadrel Rinpoche, Jigme Zangpo and Ngawang Sangdrol. All of these were on the list of individual cases of concern that we have raised with the Chinese Government. We have also welcomed, along with EU partners, the recent visit of the Dalai Lama's representatives to China. We encourage both sides to continue to use dialogue to find a peaceful resolution to the Tibetan issue.
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My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised human rights issues when he visited China in July; my hon. Friend the Minister did the same when he visited in September; there have been two further rounds of the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue (in May and November) at which a wide range of human rights issues were discussed, including Tibet.
29. Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the new regime in China with respect to progress with changes to the visa regime. 
Mr. Rammell: Although the 16th Communist Party Congress in Beijing last month appointed a new Party leadership, China's new state leadership will not be elected until the National People's congress in March 2002. We have no plans to change our visa regime for Chinese nationals wishing to enter the UK.
Mr. Rammell: In September my noble Friend Baroness Amos, the Minister for Africa, raised with President Obasanjo HMG's concerns about the harsh sentences imposed under the Sharia penal codes. She emphasised the strength of feeling against them in the UK and reiterated HMG's opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances. The High Commission, together with EU partners, regularly raises our concerns about the sentences with the appropriate authorities in Nigeria.
31. Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit Turkey to discuss Turkey's relations with the EU; and if he will make a statement. 
He reaffirmed the UK's strong support for Turkey's membership of the EU and expressed the hope that the Copenhagen European Council would offer a firm date for accession negotiations to begin. He made clear that this would be on the basis of Turkey fulfilling the relevant criteria.
32. Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the report of the UN Export Panel in respect of the exploitation of resources of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
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The current panel's mandate expired on 18 October, and there is now no mechanism in place to take forward the panel's work. We are pressing, through discussions at the UN for a speedy resolution to this problem.
35. Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK is doing to secure international action to help prevent war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Mr. Rammell: The UK has supported the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is best placed to consider appropriate action to address accusations of war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mr. Rammell: Under UK chairmanship, the UK Counter-Terrorism Committee has now reviewed 180 initial and 100 follow-up reports from states setting out the actions they have taken to comply with UNSCR 1373. The committee has sent 206 letters requesting further information on these points to states and international organisations.
The committee has also begun to compile requests from states for technical assistance towards reaching the standards set by UNSCR 1373. The committee continues to discuss such requests with suitable potential donors.
Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance his Department's posts have given to British companies seeking to export to South East Asia in the last six months. 
Mr. Rammell: During the period of 1 June 2002 to 30 November 2002, commercial staff in posts in South East Asia met and briefed 1,091 individual British business visitors; responded to 57 chargeable inquiries from British companies; received, briefed and provided support to 285 participants in 22 trade missions and 339 participants in 22 events under the Support for Exhibitions and Seminars Abroad scheme; visited 370 local companies to introduce British goods and services; issued 606 sales leads to British customers of Trade Partners UK's Sales Leads Service; lobbied on behalf of
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44 British companies and organised 36 seminars and other promotional events to introduce British exporters to markets in South East Asia.
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