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Sierra Leone

12. Patrick Mercer (Newark) (Con): What plans he has for further funding for the special court for Sierra Leone. [144050]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell): The UK is committed to the success of the special court for Sierra Leone. The model that has been pursued in Sierra Leone is far more cost-effective than other mechanisms of post-conflict restorative justice that have been established throughout the world. We are the third largest contributor to the court, and we are doing all we can to secure sufficient funds for it. In that regard, we have lobbied more than 45 states to contribute or increase their contributions to the court, and we are considering a range of options to secure funding for it.

Patrick Mercer : I am grateful to the Minister for that answer, and I am sure that he will join me in praising the work of the special court. Will he assure me, however, that he fully understands the funding crisis that it now faces? Will he also assure me that the year 3 contribution will be brought forward, and that the relocation agreement for the site of the court will be brought forward with some dispatch, so that the important trials that need to take place can do so quickly?

Mr. Rammell: I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman on the importance and role of the court. As I made clear in my opening answer, if we compare this system of post-conflict restorative justice with other mechanisms that have been used throughout the world, we can see that it is a highly cost-effective and realistic mechanism for delivering such justice. We are considering bringing forward the funding, and we are exploring ways of increasing our contribution. We are apprised of the importance of the court and are making strenuous efforts to persuade others to contribute as we are doing.

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13. John Mann (Bassetlaw) (Lab): If he will make a statement on the prospects for peace in Kashmir. [144051]

The Minister for Trade and Investment (Mr. Mike O'Brien): We welcome the recent ceasefire along the line of control, agreed by both India and Pakistan, to improve their relations. Last week, I visited the line of control and the Kashmiri communities close to it, and the human significance of the ceasefire was clear. I visited a school that had been closed for months following shelling but has now reopened. Shops, too, were reopening. I hope that sustained efforts by both India and Pakistan to address each other's concerns will pave the way for a process aimed at settling all their outstanding differences, including the issue of Kashmir.

John Mann : Considering our long-standing friendship with both Pakistan and India, and considering that the world's attention has been focused on other areas in recent times, will the Minister assure the House that we will use our unique friendship in every possible way to help to promote the process that is beginning to emerge there, and to ensure that no terrorist of any kind who wishes to break the agreement is given haven in this country?

Mr. O'Brien: We will use our friendship with both India and Pakistan to try to advance the discussions that are taking place between them. They must work through the process themselves, but we will help wherever we can. Our view on terrorism is well known: it is that terrorism in any circumstances is unacceptable, and we oppose it strongly.

Hugh Robertson (Faversham and Mid-Kent) (Con): Given that nuclear instability is one of the most serious threats to world peace, and given that it is most likely to occur between India and Pakistan, can the Minister tell us what progress the Foreign Office has made in connection with the development of a nuclear doctrine between the two countries?

Mr. O'Brien: I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new post. I hope that he will enjoy his time there, and that we will enjoy his being there.

We urge the Governments of both Indian and Pakistan to accede to the non-proliferation and the comprehensive test ban treaties immediately and without conditions. We hope that they will also develop a doctrine on the handling of nuclear weapons that involves a level of controls. We are concerned about the way in which controls are imposed in both India and Pakistan, to some extent. We have discussed the issue with them and there have been substantial improvements, but I am sure they would agree that we can always seek further improvements in nuclear doctrine.


15. David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab): If he will make a statement on the security situation in Zimbabwe. [144054]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Chris Mullin): The security situation in Zimbabwe remains tense. There is currently political and social unrest, coupled with deteriorating economic conditions. Nationwide strikes, "stayaways" and demonstrations earlier this year have led to confrontations with the security forces, violent incidents and arrests. We monitor the security situation closely, and regularly update our travel advice to reflect changing circumstances.

David Taylor : Robert Mugabe presides over a country in which democracy is dying, the economy is in tatters, and social strife is endemic. Does the Minister agree that following Zimbabwe's withdrawal from the Commonwealth its President will feel even less accountable to the international community, and that consequently human rights and the rule of law will be even more battered? What plans are there to protect the remaining British community from such a maelstrom if it does occur?

Mr. Mullin: We have contingency plans in case the situation deteriorates further, but they are just that—contingency plans. We see no particular threat at present to the remaining members of the British community in Zimbabwe, although, as my hon. Friend says, the situation is bad and is deteriorating.

Middle East

16. Mr. Tom Harris (Glasgow, Cathcart) (Lab): When he next expects to visit Israel and the West Bank. [144056]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell): The Foreign Secretary has no immediate plans to visit Israel or the West Bank, but he is in frequent contact with members of the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Harris : Will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming Prime Minister Sharon's latest statements to the effect that he is prepared unilaterally to dismantle some Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza, regardless of the success or otherwise of bilateral talks with the Palestinians? Does he, however, share my concern about the fact that every time we are anywhere near the creation of a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel, measures and discussions are derailed by terrorist actions on the part of Hamas and Islamic Jihad? What support can the Government give the Palestinians and the Israeli Government to ensure that future talks are not derailed in a similar fashion?

Mr. Rammell: I welcome any indication of moves in support of the implementation of the road map on either side in this tragic dispute. That means that the Palestinian Authority must take action to tackle terrorism, but also that Israel must fulfil its commitment to freeze all settlement activity and remove settlement outposts. While we understand Israel's legitimate security concerns, I think that the building of a fence on occupied land is unlawful and is not helping.

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Middle East

17. Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) (Con): If he will make a statement on his policy in the middle east. [144057]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Bill Rammell): The Government are fully committed to the clear objective of two states—Israel, and an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state—living side by side in peace and security. The road map to peace remains the way to achieve this vision, as agreed by the parties and the wider international community, and as underlined in UN Security Council resolution 1515.

Mr. Gibb: Although we all know that the best option would be one involving no need for a security fence in

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Israel, does the Minister accept that since its construction there has been a marked decrease in terrorist attacks on Israel, and that most of the 14 suicide bombers who have been caught there in the past three months have come from the southern region of the West Bank, where there is no security fence?

Mr. Rammell: I fully understand the security concerns of Israel and the Israeli Government, but I do not believe that the building of a wall or fence in occupied territories helps in this regard; nor does the impact on Palestinian communities help to take matters forward. We need movement on both sides: the Palestinian Authority must tackle terrorism, and the Israeli Government must implement their commitments under phase 1 of the road map.

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