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Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the high commissioner in the Maldive Islands has made to the Maldive authorities on the treatment of Mohamed Nasheed and the Maldivian Democratic Party. [25831]

Dr. Howells: The British high commissioner in Colombo, accredited to the Maldives, has raised our concerns on the trial of Mohamed Nasheed and current political events on several recent occasions. He did so on 26 September with President Gayoom of the Maldives and on 31 October with the Foreign Minister, Ahmed Shaheed.

The deputy high commissioner also raised these issues with Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed in August 2005, shortly after Mr. Nasheed's arrest, and on 27 October, following his first court appearance.

The British high commission is active in co-ordinating EU action locally. It led an EU fact-finding mission to the Maldives in August that met Government Ministers, officials and detainees, including Mohamed Nasheed. An EU statement was issued on 2 September, emphasising the responsibility of the Maldivian authorities to uphold the right of political parties to meet freely and to carry out peaceful political activities. It noted the seriousness of the charges against detainees, called for due process, and made clear that the credibility of such trials would be scrutinised closely. We will continue to underline to the Government of the Maldives its democracy and human rights obligations, both bilaterally and with our EU partners.


Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on the timetable for Poland's adoption of the euro. [27528]

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Mr. Douglas Alexander: Each new member state will pursue a strategy for adoption of the Euro appropriate to its circumstances, and in line with its obligations under the Treaty establishing the European Community. The new Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Marcinkiewicz, has said that his Government will not seek to adopt the Euro during the current Parliament. Polish President-elect, Lech Kaczynski, has said that he favours holding a referendum before adoption of the Euro.

Republic of Congo

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the hostilities in the Republic of Congo following the visit of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Kolelas. [26232]

Ian Pearson: There have been several reports of clashes between Government forces and rebels known as "Ninjas" before and since the return to the Republic of Congo of Bernard Kolelas. The Bacongo district of the capital, Brazzaville, was most affected by the violence. Several people are reported to have died in these clashes including Government security forces, rebel fighters and civilians.

On 20 October, the Congolese army said that the rebels had been forced to flee the Bacongo area. Brazzaville is now said to be calm, although we continue to monitor the situation.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Sudan on coordinated offensive operations undertaken by the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed Arab militia in Darfur (a) on 18 September in Khartoum Djadeed, Sandego, Khasantongur, Tary, Martal and Djabain and (b) on 28 September, in Arusharo, Acho and Gozmena. [25598]

Ian Pearson: On 18 and 28 September respectively, Arab Militias attacked the towns and surrounding areas of Khartoum Djadet and Aro Sharrow. We also received unconfirmed reports that the Government of Sudan's airforce acted in co-ordination with the militias during these attacks. The African Union is investigating these incidents and we await their report. Offensive military overflights by the Government of Sudan would constitute a breach of its obligations under the Abuja Security Protocol and, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1591, those responsible are liable to be targeted with a travel ban and assets freeze.

We have made clear that the recent increase in violence is unacceptable, and that those responsible must be held to account. During the recent EU Ministerial Troika meeting in Sudan on 8 October, both my noble Friend Lord Triesman, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, and the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, Javier Solana, raised recent attacks with the Sudanese Government. The UK, as EU Presidency, has also issued three statements condemning the recent increase in violence and calling on all sides to
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rein in the belligerents, and to work for a peaceful solution to the conflict.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the human rights situation in Tibet. [24215]

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Ian Pearson: The Government remain concerned about the human rights situation in Tibet. Issues of specific concern include interference by the Chinese/Tibetan authorities in the religious activities of the Tibetan people. The Government support some project work in Tibet and we monitor developments in the region closely.