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Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he received a formal request from the Irish Government to consider granting posthumous pardons in respect of 26 soldiers of Irish regiments executed in the great war for cowardice and desertion; and if he will make a statement. 
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to respond to the Irish Government's request that the Government consider granting posthumous pardons in respect of 26 soldiers of Irish regiments executed in the great war for cowardice and desertion; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary responded to the Irish Foreign Minister, Dermot Ahern's request on 16 November 2004, explaining that the matter fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence and that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (John Reid) would respond after due consideration.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings have taken place since 6 July between British and Kyrgyz officials to discuss the situation of remaining Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Since 6 July, the UK and the EU have remained fully engaged on the situation regarding the remaining Uzbek refugees in Krygyzstan. Our Ambassador visited the refugee camp in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan on 6 July and met the Governor of the Jalalabad region. He followed that up with a meeting on 7 July with the then Kyrgyz Foreign Minister, Otunbaeva. As presidency of the EU, on 27 July we asked the Germans, as the local presidency in Bishkek, to demarche the Kyrgyz authorities on the welfare and fate of the refugees.
On 29 July, the EU issued a statement welcoming the departure of 439 of the refugees from Kyrgyzstan. On 4 August, my hon. Friend, the Minister for State for Trade for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Ian Pearson) called the Deputy Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan. My hon. Friend reaffirmed the EU's appreciation for the role played by the Kyrgyz authorities in the onward transit of the 439 refugees, and re-emphasised the importance of the remaining 15 refugees being treated in accordance with international conventions. Our Charge d'Affaires spoke to the then Foreign Minister, Otunbaeva and her deputy on the same issue on 1415 August.
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On 21 September, as presidency of the EU, we issued a further statement welcoming the departure from Kyrgyzstan of 11 of the remaining refugees, but again noting the importance of the remaining four being treated in accordance with international treaties. This message was repeated at the Sixth EU-Kyrgyzstan Co-operation Committee in Brussels on 27 September.
Throughout this period our Embassy has been in close contact with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Our Ambassador last met Prime Minister Kulov on 28 September. We will continue to remain engaged on this issue for as long as any of the refugees remain in Kyrgyzstan.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the application of EU legislation on icebreaking capabilities of UK vessels in the South Atlantic. 
The United Nations' International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has issued Arctic Guidelines for vessels operating in the regions north of 60 degrees north. These guidelines include constructional, navigational and equipment standards. There are plans to extend these guidelines to the South Atlantic but this is unlikely to be finalised before 2008.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response he plans to make to the recent call by the Secretary General of the United Nations for increased international action concerning Darfur. 
Ian Pearson: As my hon. Friend will know, the UK has been at the forefront of international action concerning Darfur. My noble Friend, the Minister for Africa visited Sudan, including Darfur, on 58 October and participated in the EU Troika's meetings with senior Sudanese officials. We have provided expert assistance to the Abuja Peace talks and are willing to provide more. We have already provided almost £32 million for the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), fully supported the African Union request for securing a further contribution of £70 million from the European Commission, bringing the total EU contribution to AMIS to €162 million. We are exploring all practical steps to ensure that AMIS has access to the military equipment donated to the mission to ensure it can operate effectively. The UK has provided £92 million in humanitarian aid to Darfur since September 2003, and we are calling for others to do more. We continue to work with international partners, including in our role as presidency of the EU, to ensure that the international community is taking full action on Darfur. To this end, we hosted a meeting for key international partners on 1 November in London.
The UK has provided the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) with funding to support its field security co-ordination structure in Darfur. Following pressure from the UK, the UNDSS has deployed eight field security co-ordination officers in Darfur. The UNDSS has worked closely with NGOs and established reporting mechanisms in each Darfur state to relay timely security information. It provides a dedicated 24-hour VHF radio channel to receive and respond to emergency calls from NGOs operating in Darfur and also holds regular security briefings. Given the current security situation, we are working closely with the UNDSS to improve the effectiveness of their operations.
In addition, we have provided funding to the NGO Red-R to train humanitarian NGOs in Darfur in security skills, procedures and practice. Red-R is providing Darfur specific programmes, including pre-deployment training, in-country safety workshops and driver training.
The African Union (AU) Mission also has a vital role to play and we have provided £32 million towards its expansion. There is no doubt that where it is deployed it is having a positive impact on security and it has also offered to escort humanitarian convoys. However, the situation remains difficult.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings HM Ambassador in Tashkent has had with (a) President Karimov and (b) Foreign Minister Ganiev since he presented his credentials on 8 June. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Our Ambassador, David Moran, has not met President Karimov since their long meeting during the presentation of his credentials. He last met Foreign Minister Ganiev on 5 October and has been in regular contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He called on the First Deputy Foreign Minister on 20 June, 29 July and 26 October. He also called on the Minister of Internal Affairs on 23 June, the Minister of Justice on 8 July and the First Deputy Prime Minister on 22 July.
Ian Pearson: The UK has made numerous representations to the Tongan authorities on a wide range of good governance and human rights issues. The high commissioner in Tonga has maintained a regular dialogue with Members of the Tongan Royal Family, Government Ministers, Nobles and Peoples MPs and encouraged the introduction of political and democratic reforms. Working with other partners, we have also encouraged the restoration of freedom of expression and of the press, and the selection of some Cabinet Members from elected MPs.
Dr. Howells: The Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action (UN PoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons takes place in New York in July 2006. The UK's aims, in co-operation with other members of the international community, are to build support for adoption of minimum common criteria for controls on transfers including the import, export and transhipment of Small Arms and Light Weapons; and to secure agreement on further work under the UN PoA on the issue of transfer controls. Overall, our ideal outcome for the Review Conference is an extension, without reopening it, of the UN PoA mandate; this will facilitate a more effective response to illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons.
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