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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of (a) the scale and (b) the nature of activity by the Conseil national pour la de"fense de la democratie/Forces pour la de"fense de la democratie in (i) the Democratic Republic of the Congo, (ii) Tanzania and (iii) Burundi since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: The Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie/Forces pour la Defense de la Democratie (CNDD-FDD) is a former rebel group that operated in Burundi, from Democratic Republic of Congo territory and was alleged to have infiltrated Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania.
Although the CNDD-FDD was not party to the Burundian peace agreement of August 2000 (the Arusha Accord), it subsequently signed ceasefire agreements with the Transitional Government of Burundi in December 2002 and November 2003. Its leaders have since joined the Transitional Government and are working towards elections by 30 April 2005. Its forces are being integrated into the new national army.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many copies of the Commentary on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, released on 26 January, have been published; what the final projected print-run is; what the per-unit publishing cost is; and what the total budget for the publication is. 
Mr. Straw: 200 copies of the Commentary on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe were printed prior to introduction of the EU Bill on 26 January to ensure sufficient copies were available in the Libraries of both Houses. Subject to demand, we plan to publish 1,500 copies as a Command Paper prior to Second Reading of the EU Bill at an estimated cost of £14,000 for printing and distribution (approximately £9.33 unit cost). The Commentary will also be available for purchase from Her Majesty's Stationery Office for £47.10. This and other Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) publications can be accessed free of charge via the FCO website (www.europe.gov.uk).
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Foreign Office staff worked on the compilation of the Commentary on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, released on 26 January; how many man-hours were allocated to its compilation; how many man-hours were
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consumed; what consultations concerning this publication were held with bodies outside his Department; and what costs were incurred. 
Mr. Straw: At least 11 Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff were involved at times with drafting the Commentary on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. The FCO does not keep a record of man-hours worked on individual projects. The Commentary represents the considered view of the Government as a whole. I refer the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the reply I gave to him today on costs involved in its publication and distribution (UIN213187).
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by what date and in what form he will publish the range of material to accompany the constitutional treaty to which the Prime Minister referred on 4 May 2004, Official Report, column 1456W; and what the price of such material will be. 
Mr. MacShane: A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Guide to the EU, which includes basic information about the constitutional treaty as well as general information about how the EU works, was published on 1 November 2004. Members of the public may request a free copy of this guide via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.europe.gov.uk). An FCO Commentary analysing the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe compared with the existing EU treaties was laid in Parliament on 26 January. The commentary can be downloaded from the FCO website free of charge. It will be published as a Command Paper in time for Second Reading of the EU Bill and will be available for reference at central libraries and for purchase from Her Majesty's Stationery Office at £47.10. Further information about the new treaty will be made available by the Government in due course, but decisions about the form and timing of this information have not yet been made.
Mr. Alexander: The bulk of the Government's assistance to Georgia comes from the Department for International Development's (DFID) bilateral technical assistance programme. DFID is providing £2 million this financial year. Most of the assistance the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides comes from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP), which is jointly administered by FCO/MOD/DFID.
Outside the GCPP, FCO assistance has been provided for a variety of other projects including recycling and destruction of stockpiles of ammunition and bombs; training for the creation of a public broadcasting service; assistance in providing legal aid in association with the Georgian Parliament's Human Rights Committee; and work with Azerbaijani and Armenian minorities within Georgia.
Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last contacted his Iranian counterpart about the return of the Royal Marine boats and equipment that were seized on 21 June 2004. 
Mr. Alexander: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the status of the boats with Dr. Kamal Kharrazi, Iran's Foreign Minister, when they last met on 23 November 2004. He did so with Dr. Hassan Rouhani, the Secretary-General of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, on 13 December 2004. The British Ambassador in Tehran and his deputy have discussed the matter with senior officials at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on several occasions in December 2004 and January 2005.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the (a) social, (b) economic and (c) humanitarian impact of the Absentee Property Law in Israel, with particular reference to its impact on the peace process; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: We have made no specific assessment of the social, economic or humanitarian impact of the Absentee Property Law, or its impact on the peace process. However, we are concerned by the potential impact of the Law, and our Ambassador in Tel Aviv has written to the Israeli Justice Minister requesting more information.
We have raised our concerns at the highest levels of the Government of Israel about the destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, the imposition of restrictions on the movement of goods and people (also known as the closures), the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and the denial of access for humanitarian and medical agencies to those in need. All of these have contributed to Palestinians' sense of frustration and hopelessness, and make a comprehensive settlement more difficult to achieve. A solution to this conflict is crucial both for Israelis and
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Palestinians, and for broader prospects of long-term peace in the region. That is why progress on the Middle East peace process is one of the highest priority policies for this Government.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress towards the objectives of the Middle East roadmap to peace, with particular reference to his discussions with the (a) Israeli Prime Minister and (b) Palestinian President. 
Mr. Alexander: My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary both visited the region in late 2004. In discussions with both sides they found a real recognition that both the Israelis and Palestinians share responsibility for progress on getting back to the roadmap and finding a solution to this conflict. We believe there is an opportunity to build on the current momentum in the Middle East peace process following Mahmoud Abbas' election on 9 January, and with Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza and part of the northern West Bank later this year.
The prospects for progress towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict are now better than they have been for many years. We must help both sides make the most of this opportunity. The London Meeting on 1 March aims to support the new Palestinian leadership, Palestinian institution building, and contribute to progress on the roadmap.
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