|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
17. Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the measures the new leadership of the Palestinian Authority is taking to prevent terror attacks being launched against Israel. 
Mr. Straw: The new leadership of the Palestinian Authority has said that it will pursue security reform as a priority. We have long called for this. The UK is working with the Palestinian Authority to improve its operational capacity to provide better security for Palestinians and to prevent attacks on Israel.
The situation in Darfur continues to be of grave concern, with the security and consequently the humanitarian situation deteriorating.. We continue to press the parties to implement the Humanitarian and Security Protocols signed at Abuja on 9 November. The UK is a key supporter of the expanding Africa Union monitoring mission and we are the second largest
14 Dec 2004 : Column 1059W
bilateral donor to Darfur, having committed over £62 million in humanitarian assistance since September 2003.
19. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the level of threat to UK embassies posed by terrorist cells abroad. 
Following the attack on the US Consulate General, the FCO Overseas Security Adviser visited Saudi Arabia last week to review the security arrangements of our Posts and to offer his advice to the Ambassador and his staff.
Mr. Alexander: We are concerned about the deteriorating security situation, including as a result of recent politically motivated violence, in Bangladesh. We have raised our concerns both with the Bangladeshi government, and with leaders of the opposition. The general law and order situation does not appear to be improving, and the lack of clear progress of investigations into high profile attacks on political leaders is also unsatisfactory. I intend to raise our concerns when I visit Bangladesh next week.
Mr. MacShane: I believe the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative (SCPI) has been a successful confidence-building project, bringing together parliamentarians from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. A number of productive meetings and conferences have been held, including the first meeting of these three countries' parliamentarians at a Plenary Assembly in Scotland in 2003. SCPI offers a positive example of a regional initiative that could be useful to build on as part of the European Neighbourhood Policy process.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, with President Bush, set out a number of steps to help inject new momentum into the middle east peace process. These steps should lead through Palestinian
14 Dec 2004 : Column 1060W
presidential elections, and Israel's disengagement plan, to negotiations on a final settlement in the context of the Roadmap. We are taking these forward urgently, including through my recent visit, support to Palestinian elections and planning for Israeli disengagement.
Mr. Rammell: We have an opportunity to make progress on the middle east peace process. Several factors contribute to this: Israel's disengagement plan, elections in the Palestinian authority, and President Bush's commitment to use America's political capital to achieve progress. The middle east peace process is one of our highest foreign policy priorities. We will work with the parties and our international partners to seize this opportunity for progress.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the route change to the Israeli Security Wall recently approved by the Israeli Defence Minister. 
Mr. Rammell: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made clear to the Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom, on his recent visit to Israel, we consider unlawful the construction of the barrier on occupied land, with the destruction of property and hardship that it entails. We regard as positive any change that brings the barrier closer to the Green Line and which reduces its impact on Palestinian civilians.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made of the effect that the re-routing of the Security Wall in the West Bank will have on Israeli's security. 
Mr. Rammell: The UK, as lead nation, is committed to supporting the Afghan Government in the implementation of their comprehensive National Drug Control Strategy. I refer my hon. Friend to the written statement I made on 29 November 2004, Official Report, columns 1718WS on Afghanistan: Counter Narcotics .
We are working with the Afghan Government and others to increase activity in all areas of that strategy over the coming year. As well as co-ordinating the activity of international partners, we are providing substantial financial and practical supportspending more than £100 million over three years.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations have been made by the Government to the Government of Burma to release (a) all political prisoners in Burma and (b) Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: The UK has repeatedly pressed for the release of all political prisoners in Burma and the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, most recently when I met the Burmese Ambassador on 29 November. Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention is completely unjustified and unacceptable both to the people of Burma and the international community. All political prisoners in Burma should be released immediately so that they can play their part in promoting national reconciliation.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the reports that the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi has been extended by the newly appointed Prime Minister of Burma, General Soe Win. 
Mr. Alexander: I am deeply concerned that the Burmese military Government appears to have formally extended Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest for another year. Her continued detention is completely unjustified and unacceptable. Aung San Suu Kyi has a key role to play in national reconciliation in Burma and I have urged her immediate release.
Mr. Alexander: I met the Burmese ambassador on 29 November and called for the release of all political prisoners in Burma. I also called for the release of all political prisoners in my press statement of 30 November. A copy of the statement is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: www.fco.gov.uk/policy/news/press-releases.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the Government of Burma's decision to release more than 9,000 prisoners; and what assessment he has made of reports of the numbers of those released that were political detainees. 
It is disappointing that only about 45 political prisoners were included in the release of more than 9,000 prisoners. This is not enough. Over 1300 political prisoners remain in Burmese jails. The Government have repeatedly urged the release of all political prisoners in the country.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Burma about the need to (a) respect human rights and (b) uphold their obligations under the (i) Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and (ii) Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
Burma is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination on all forms of discrimination against women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, compliance remains limited. The UN General Assembly and the UN Commission on Human Rights have passed successive resolutions, co-sponsored by the UK, condemning human rights violations in Burma.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason Burmese state-owned enterprises with particular reference to Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise have not been included within the sanctions comprised by Annex II of the Council Common Position on Burma 2004/730/CFSP and Annex IV of Council Regulation (EC) 798/2004. 
Mr. Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) on 17 November 2004, Official Report, column 1546W.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with representatives of the Association of South East Asian Nations regarding the role that organisation should play in the improvement of ethnic equality in Burma. 
Mr. Alexander: I met ambassadors from the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) on 29 November and urged the need for political reform in Burma, full respect for human rights and the need for all groups in Burma, including ethnic nationalities, to play a full part in national reconciliation.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken by his Department to press for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from prison in Burma. 
Mr. Alexander: The UK has repeatedly pressed for the immediate release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, most recently when I met the Burmese ambassador on 29 November. Her continued detention under house arrest is unacceptable.
The UK works closely with its EU and international partners, as well as through the UN and the International Labour Organisation, to press for political and wider reform in Burma, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the release of all political prisoners.
Mr. Alexander: The UK welcomes all efforts to promote reconciliation in Burma. We support the Thai Government's engagement and effort on Burma, including the Bangkok Process meeting held in December 2003.
The Burmese State Peace and Development Council roadmap to build a modern, developed democratic nation was set out in August 2003. The UK remains committed to helping Burma achieve national
14 Dec 2004 : Column 1063W
reconciliation and we will respond positively to tangible progress. However, it is essential that the road map is an inclusive and transparent process, involving all political parties and ethnic groups in Burma, if it is to be credible.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action the Government are taking through (a) the European Union and (b) the United Nations to improve the political situation in Burma. 
Mr. Alexander: The UK works closely with its EU and UN partners to promote political reform and full respect for human rights in Burma. On 11 October the EU agreed to strengthen further restrictive measures in its Common Position on Burma. The new measures include the widening of the visa ban to serving military officers of the rank Brigadier General and above, and their families, and a prohibition on EU registered companies or organisations from making loans or credits available to, and on acquiring or extending a participation in, named Burmese state owned enterprises.
This was in response to the continued detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the continuing restrictions on the National league for Democracy, and the failure to allow a genuine open debate in the National Convention.
The UK fully supports all efforts by the UN to promote reconciliation in Burma. We played a key role in drafting this year's UN General Assembly resolution on human rights in Burma, due to be adopted later this month.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|