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14. Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to disarm Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon in compliance with Security Council resolution 1559. 
Mr. Straw: We support full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1559, including the disarmament of Hezbollah, and will work with the new Lebanese Government in its efforts to deliver the political, economic and security sector reforms that will be necessary to resolve this complex task. Yesterday, the EU external relations council was briefed at my invitation, by Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Envoy for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Government has regular contacts with all our EU partners. We have, as presidency, started a process of consultation with other member states, with a view to making progress in the negotiations to set the EU budget from 2007 to 2013.
Mr. Straw: It is not least because of our long standing ties with Zimbabwe that the pain of its people for the misgovernment it has suffered is so keenly felt in the United Kingdom, including in this House. Since September 2001, the UK has provided over £71 million of humanitarian assistance; and has worked successfully to see the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and the imposition of EU sanctions.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and I spoke to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan about Zimbabwe on 6 July. We shall consider what further action is needed once the report of the Secretary General's Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, is published.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the African Union on the promotion of good governance in Zimbabwe. 
Ian Pearson: My noble Friend the Minister for Africa (the Lord Triesman of Tottenham), and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) attended the African Union Summit in Sirte on 4/5 July. They made our views clear to African leaders there. I am encouraged by the response of Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo to engage Zimbabwe on the political and economic crisis in that country. I also welcome the initiative of chairman of the African Union to send an Envoy, even though the Government of Zimbabwe has so far blocked his mission. African leaders have a crucial role to play in ending the Zimbabwe crisis, and we will continue to urge them to do so in support of their responsibilities toward fellow Africans.
17. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to streamline procedures for individuals from Commonwealth countries applying for visas to the UK. 
Ian Pearson: We are delivering both good services to customers and tight immigration control. We are making the visa application process faster, including through convenient regional application centres, only interviewing where necessary, improved staff training and more resources. We have introduced risk assessment units in high risk posts and plan more. All overseas visa applicants are subject to certain security checks.
Ian Pearson: The security situation has deteriorated since the expiry of the cease-fire in February and the onset of the rainy season. The Lord's Resistance Army continue to attack and loot for food and supplies.
We support those working to end this conflict. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and the noble Lord Triesman of Tottenham discussed this with President Museveni on 4 July.
19. Mr. Crispin Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the UK's relations with Iran, with particular reference to Iran's continued possession of Royal Naval vessels. 
Mr. Straw: We have serious concerns about Iranian policies in a number of areas. These include Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its approach to human rights, Iraq, terrorism and the middle east peace process. We aim to encourage progress through a policy of critical and conditional engagement.
Ian Pearson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development announced on 13 June 2005 an increase in the UK contribution to the AU to £19 million. This brings our total contribution to the African Union mission in Sudan since its inception to almost £32 million. The UK fully supports the work of the African Union in Darfur, where it is having a significant effect.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice, including for India, is designed to help British travellers to make informed decisions about travelling abroad and to avoid trouble, by providing
19 Jul 2005 : Column 1552W
relevant information. Travel advice for India is kept under constant review, and is amended when considered necessary.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will introduce legislation to control the operations of British mercenaries abroad; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Straw [holding answer 18 July 2005]: The issue of regulation of the overseas activities of UK private military and security companies was considered in the Government's Green Paper 'Private Military Companies', published on 12 February 2002. Last autumn I instituted a further detailed review of options for regulation, including legislation. The review is now complete and is being considered by Ministers. The Government will keep Parliament fully informed of its decisions in this area.
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 663W, on Bulgaria (EU accession), what elements Bulgaria needs to implement in relation to justice. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander [holding answer 18 July 2005]: The European Commission wrote to the Bulgarian Government at the start of June 2005. It noted that Bulgaria still needs to implement reforms in its judicial system:
in particular to ensure the efficiency and transparency in the pre-trial phase as regards the Criminal Procedure Code and other related laws including the Judicial System Act, the Criminal Code and the Ministry of Interior Act".
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