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20. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the use of the British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia for the detention by the United States of terrorist suspects en route to Guantánamo Bay. 
Mr. Rammell: Further to the written answer given on 11 September by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell), allegations that terror suspects are being, or have at any time been, detained in Diego Garcia are entirely without foundation.
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the award of the Russian Arctic Convoy medal to UK nationals. 
Mr. Rammell [holding answer on 15 December 2003]: Government rules governing the acceptance of foreign awards by British Nationals preclude the acceptance of medals for services more than five years before consideration. In addition, the Defence of the Soviet Arctic Region Medal (DSARM) is a campaign medal and it was agreed at the end of the Second World War, by the then allied countries, not to exchange campaign medals. (The Atlantic Star is the British medal awarded for service in Atlantic Convoys.)
However, officials have been examining the possibility of an exception to the present rules to permit veterans to accept the DSARM should the Russian
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Government formally seek the Government's authority to award the medal to British Citizens. A decision on whether an exception can be made is expected shortly.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many reports of possible cases of bribery or corruption abroad by UK (a) nationals and (b) companies have been referred to him by his Department's posts overseas since November 2001. 
Mr. MacShane: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Mr. Thomas) on 28 October 2003, Official Report, column 181W.
The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act was passed in November 2001 and entered into force in February 2002.
Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international action he will propose to bring about democracy and human rights in Burma. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: A number of countries including Burma, France, Germany and ASEAN members met on 15 December in Bangkok at the invitation of the Thai Government. We understand that Burma objected to Britain attending because we were strongly critical of the regime. The aim of the meeting was to see if there was a realistic prospect of a roadmap toward democracy and reconciliation.
We have regularly discussed Burma with our international partners, including what possible further measures we may take if the regime continues to thwart the democratic rights of the Burmese people. I hope to meet Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai on 18 December to discuss the 15 December meeting and how we can take matters forward. We will also continue to work with our EU partners through the UN, ILO and other international fora to put pressure on the Burmese regime to fully release Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy colleagues and, together with the ethnic groups, begin a genuine dialogue leading to democratic change and national reconciliation.
Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to help resolve the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. 
Mr. Mullin: We take every opportunity to emphasise to both parties that the Boundary Commission's decision is final and binding; that both should avoid any return to war; and that dialogue is essential to address all the issues separating Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 8 December 2003, Official Report,
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column 245W, on the European Constitution, what assessment the Government have made of the impact of the territorial cohesion provisions in the draft EU Constitution Treaty on applications from peripheral and insular areas for regional European support and state aid; and what discussions his Department has held with local government representatives from Highland and Island councils on this subject. 
Mr. MacShane: We do not expect the references to "territorial cohesion" to have any impact on existing arrangements for the structural funds and regional aid. The devolved administrations have throughout been closely associated with the development of government policy towards the IGC, and are also involved in the development of UK positions on structural funds and state aid.
Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects discussions on the European Constitution to reach a conclusion. 
Mr. MacShane: In the light of the outcome of the meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference on 1213 December, we expect discussions on the timetable of the negotiations to be taken forward by the future Irish presidency.
Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he is planning further combined initiatives with the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany. 
Mr. MacShane: We have worked closely with the French and Germans on an informal basis on a range of issues of mutual interest (e.g. joint initiative on industrial competitiveness, consultations on European defence, co-ordinated foreign policy towards Iran) and will continue to do so as the need arises.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has had any representations relating to the detention of Mr.Mikhail Khodorkovsky; and whether this matter has been discussed with the (a) Russian Government and (b) the Russian Embassy. 
Mr. Rammell: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office received one letter from a member of the House of Lords about the "Yukos affair", to which I have replied. Separately, I also discussed the issue with the Russian Ambassador last month, and the EU raised it with President Putin on 6 November during the recent EU-Russia summit.
Mr. Lyons: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will investigate claims of torture made against Saudi Arabia by the recently released British prisoner. 
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Mr. Mullin: Throughout the detention of the British men in Saudi Arabia, we raised with the Saudi authorities, at the highest levels, our concerns about the case, including the men's treatment and conditions in detention. We are in touch with the men and their lawyers and are doing what we properly can to assist them.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Singapore regarding the trading by Singapore-based companies with the military leadership in Burma; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: While we have not made any representations to the Government of Singapore on this issue. We regularly discuss the problems of Burma with Asian countries, including Singapore. The UK has a long standing policy of not supporting trade with Burma.
This is well known to the international community. The EU Common Position is designed to target regime leaders and, as far as is possible, to avoid hurting the people of Burma. We would welcome a similar approach from Burma's neighbours.
Mr. Woodward: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on reforming UN structures; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rammell: The UK Government wish to see an efficient United Nations that can meet the challenges of the modern world and deliver the objectives established in the Millennium Declaration.
We want to see a stronger and revitalised general assembly. We strongly support the proposals of the GA President, Julian Hunte. We support the Secretary General's efforts to create a more effective secretariat with improved priority setting and financial management. We are encouraging efforts towards improving the wider UN system of Funds, Programmes and Specialised Agencies. We also look forward to the outcome of the high level panel set up by the Secretary General to review the way the UN deals with threats to international peace and security.
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I also refer my hon. Friend to Command Paper CM5898, laid before the House in September, in which the UK's policy towards reform of the UN is described in more detail.
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