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Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) events and (b) meetings are planned concerning middle east reform during the UK presidency of the G8. 
We intend to take forward during the UK's G8 presidency implementation of the G8 Broader Middle East and North Africa initiative agreed last year at Sea Island. This will include meetings of G8 and regional Foreign, Finance and Education Ministers. We
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also intend to support civil society and business contributions to regional reform through their participation in ministerial meetings and through sponsorship of events that bring G8 and regional civil society groups together to address various aspects of reform.
Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Government of (a) Saudi Arabia, (b) Jordan, (c) Egypt, (d) Syria and (e) Lebanon regarding political reform in the middle east. 
Mr. Rammell: We support the emerging momentum for change and modernisation that is developing in the middle east region. Both my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. and noble Friend the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for the middle east, have over the past year encouraged political reform in the middle east both on a bilateral basis with the countries identified by my hon. Friend and in the context of EU and G8 meetings with the region.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Israeli Government regarding the Israeli and Palestinian peace process. 
Mr. Rammell: We hold regular discussions with Israeli Government representatives at all levels. My right hon. and Noble friend the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office visited Israel, 23 March, to brief the Israeli Government on the outcome of the London meeting. Baroness Symons met Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. On 23 March, Baroness Symons met Israeli ambassador Zvi Heifetz in London, to discuss the issue of settlement expansion. I am meeting ambassador Heifetz on 6 April and will raise this again during that meeting.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has held with (a) the government and (b) civil society organisations in Nepal on restoring elected government; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: We have had several discussions with the Government of Nepal following the King's takeover of power on 1 February, in which we have expressed our concerns about the dismissal of the elected government and urged them to make moves towards the restoration of representative democracy. I raised our concerns with the Nepalese ambassador immediately after the King's takeover. Our ambassador in Kathmandu raised these concerns with the King and, along with EU partners, with the foreign Minister.
Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool and other programmes we continue to support and engage with civil society organisations in Nepal in our efforts towards restoring democracy. We remain in close contact with the Nepalese authorities, NGOs and
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international partners in our efforts to secure a peaceful, durable and democratic resolution to the conflict in Nepal.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many representations (a) he, (b) his Department and (c) representatives of the UK in Kathmandu have received concerning the detention of (i) Mr. Bishnu Nisthuri, General Secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, (ii) Mr. Narayan Adhikari, Rashtriya Samachar Samiti, Chitwan, (iii) Mr. Basanta Prajuli, Daily Gorkhapatra, Chitwan, (iv) Mr. D. R. Panta, Kantipur correspondent in Dadeldhura, (v) Mr. Khem Bhandari, editor, Anhiyan, Mahendranagar and (vi) Mr. Sujeev Bajracharya, editor, City Post Sandhyakalin, Kathmandu; what inquiries (A) his Department and (B) representatives of the UK in Kathmandu have made into the whereabouts of each; what discussions (1) he, (2) members of his Department and (3) representatives of the UK have had with members and representatives of the government of Nepal concerning (y) the detention of the journalists and (z) the government of Nepal's policy on freedom of the press; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: We have received many representations about the situation in Nepal and the detention of journalists and others since the King's takeover of power on 1 February. However, we are not aware of having received any specific representations or letters concerning any of the above named individuals.
Since the King took power in Nepal many hundreds of political activists, have been detained as well as a number of students, journalists, human rights defenders and trade unionists. I have publicly raised our concerns about the Kings actions, and our Ambassador in Kathmandu has called on the King directly to release all political prisoners detained under the emergency regulations.
The UK remains committed to restoring the institutions of democracy, including freedom of the press, and is making efforts to support the media to function independently and without interference in Nepal.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his latest assessment is of progress made by the Palestinian Authority in reform of its security apparatus. 
Mr. Rammell: Following the pledges made at Sharm el Sheikh on 8 February and the London Meeting on 1 March, the Palestinian leadership has made progress with security reform, but the situation remains fragile.
Both Israelis and Palestinians agree that security co-operation has improved sharply, with local and national commanders meeting frequently. The Israel Defence Forces credit the Palestinian Authority (PA) with closing a number of smuggling tunnels in Gaza, and for making real efforts against rocket attacks. The handover of West Bank cities, as agreed at Sharm el Sheikh, is progressing. Jericho was handed over to the PA on 16 March and Tulkarem on 21 March. On 17 March President Abbas reached an agreement with 12 Palestinian militant groups to extend the current period of calm until the end of 2005.
The PA still has a great deal to do. The agenda for security reform was set out in the conclusions of the London Meeting on 1 March. The United States is leading in the efforts to assist the PA in achieving its goals. General Ward (regional security co-ordinator) has established his office and is already working with Palestinian officials. We will continue to work to ensure that this reform programme is successful in the longer term.
Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects of fuel shortages in Sierra Leone on the security situation. 
Mr. Mullin: The continued fuel shortage in Sierra Leone is worrying. On its own, we do not judge it to be a major security threat. But in the longer term we are concerned about its potential impact on the daily lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans, many of whom are already severely disadvantaged.
Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of deploying (a) Ugandan and (b) Sudanese peacekeepers in Somalia. 
Mr. Mullin: Although plans for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) sponsored Peace Support Operation have yet to be finalised, we are pleased that IGAD's proposals take account of Somali sensitivities over the involvement of neighbouring states. We await further information about the final decisions.
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