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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Lebanese Government to disarm militias in Lebanon in accordance with UN Resolution 1559. 
Dr. Howells: There is regular and close contact between the UK and the Government of Lebanon, including discussions about the disarmament of Hezbollah and other militias in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The subject was discussed when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fuad Siniora, on 9 May this year. The UK supports full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1559 and UNSCR 1701, including the disarmament of Hezbollah and other militias, and the efforts of the Lebanese Government to assert its sovereignty and authority throughout its territories.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the prospects for a sustainable ceasefire in Lebanon; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Government worked hard to secure UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on 11 August 2006, which was aimed at securing the conditions for a sustainable, durable ceasefire that would prevent a return to the status quo ante. As a result of UNSCR 1701, that ceasefire has largely held and we are now focused on humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, and enhancing the Government of Lebanon's ability to take full control of its territory, a requirement of both UNSCRs 1559 and 1701.
Urgent work has been undertaken to strengthen the UN Force in Lebanon, in order to carry out the range of important new tasks set out in UNSCR 1701. We have also been working hard with key partners to re-energise the Middle East Peace Process, an issue of vital importance to the region and wider world. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister visited Lebanon, the first ever visit by a British Prime Minister, Israel and the Occupied Territories from 9-11 September and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary visited Egypt from 7-9 September.
Dr. Howells: The following table gives an indication of our contribution to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in each year since 1978. Details of the provenance of these figures can be found as follows.
|Approximate UK contribution (£)|
The figures for 1978-81 are taken from the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices (FCO) Supply Estimates documents from 1979-84. These documents give estimates for expenditure in the coming financial year and give the outturn for the previous financial year.
For the period 1982-91 the FCO did not break down its contributions to the UN system in its Supply Estimates/Departmental reports as it did in other years. These figures were therefore calculated from the UN agreed budget for UNIFIL for that UK financial year using the contemporary rate of assessment. The dollar figures were converted to sterling using the average exchange rate for the financial year in question.
For the period 1992-2002 the figures are taken from the FCO Departmental Report. For 1992-95 the FCO listed its contributions to the UN system in its Departmental Reports in calendar years but thereafter they are listed in UK financial years.
Between 1978 and 2004 an excess of funds accumulated in the UNs UNIFIL bank account. The UN decided to off-set this surplus against member states contributions in financial year 2004-05, which explains the substantial difference between our contribution in 2004 and other years.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her assessment is of the effectiveness of the funding provided by the UK to the UN Interim Force In Lebanon since (a) 1978 and (b) since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. 
Dr. Howells: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was established in 1978 under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 426, with the aim of confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security and assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area. From 1978 to 2000 UNIFIL helped reduce confrontation between armed groups in south Lebanon and helped to protect the civilian population. It was not until 2000, when Israel withdrew its forces behind a UN demarcated Blue Line, that UNIFIL had the opportunity to implement its mandate of confirming Israeli withdrawal.
After 2000 UNIFIL continued to play a valuable role in limiting confrontation between Israel and Hizbollah by monitoring violations of the Blue Line and reporting them to the Security Council. Since 2000 there have been occasional exchanges of fire over the border.
However, under its previous mandate and with a limited troop deployment, UNIFIL was unable to assist the Government of Lebanon in taking full control of its territory. For this reason, UNSCR 1701 provided for an enhanced UNIFIL mission under strengthened Rules of Engagement aimed at extending
the Government of Lebanon's control over the whole of the country. The UK continues to believe that UNIFIL plays an integral role in Lebanon and that there is a strong case for funding its operation.
The UK is committed to paying its obligatory assessed costs to all UN peacekeeping operations, including UNIFIL, and regularly argues within the context of the Security Council and the General Assembly for effective and efficient peacekeeping missions.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support she has provided to the UN Interim Force In Lebanon forces other than financial support through the UN. 
Dr. Howells: As well as paying our share of the costs of the UN operation, the UK has sent HMS York to participate in the Interim Maritime Force until the German-led United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Maritime Force can assume these duties. We are also considering providing two E3 AWACS and six Jaguar aircraft if needed. And we are willing to respond positively to requests to use our Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus. Due to our current operational commitments elsewhere, the UK will not be able to provide ground troops to UNIFIL.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what rules of engagement UNIFIL forces in Lebanon have; and what role UNIFIL forces have played in the current situation. 
Dr. Howells: The Rules of Engagement of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are drawn up by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and are a UN classified document. They were revised following the adoption on 11 August of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 to reflect the altered mandate given by the Security Council to UNIFIL.
monitor the cessation of hostilities;
accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon, and to co-ordinate these activities with the Governments of Lebanon and Israel;
extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment of an area between the Blue Line and the Litani river free of any armed personnel, assetsand weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL;
assist the Government of Lebanon, at its request, to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in to Lebanon without its consent of arms or related material.
The activities of UNIFIL in the current situation include tasks across the range of mandated activities and are described in detail in the reports of the UN Secretary-General on the implementation of UN
Security Council Resolution 1701. These are available on the UN website at: http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/sgrep06.htm.
Dr. Howells: The UK played a leading role in the passage of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1559, which called for the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon. This call was further reinforced in UNSCR 1680 and again by Resolution 1701. The UK is now working with our international partners to implement these resolutions, in particular by strengthening the ability of the democratically elected Lebanese government to exercise control throughout Lebanon and ensuring that militias, supported and supplied from outside Lebanon, can never again plunge the region into crisis.
Dr. Howells: The UK played a leading role in passing UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1559 in September 2004. This called for withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, and supported the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory. Since Syrian troops withdrew in April 2005, we have been giving practical assistance to the Lebanese Government to help it assert its authority over its territory. This has included sending UK experts to advise on security sector reform, training courses for the Lebanese security forces and a visit by a UK military team to review equipment requirements for the Lebanese armed forces in its role following Syrian withdrawal.
We continue to support the Government of Lebanon in implementing all UN Resolutions, including UNSCR 1701, which is aimed at creating a Lebanon which is genuinely sovereign and democratic and in which the Government controls the whole of its territory. My right hon. Friend the Prime Ministers recent visit to Lebanon underlined the UKs continuing commitment.
Hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah have been the subject of intense diplomatic activity in which my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and I were all heavily engaged. On 10 August my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary flew to New York to work with international partners towards resolution of the outstanding difficulties. On 11 August the UN Security Council was able unanimously to adopt its Resolution 1701, which aims to secure the conditions for
sustainable, durable ceasefire that would prevent a return to the conflict and the status quo that preceded it.
The UK worked hard to secure UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The cessation of hostilities thereby established has largely held. UK effort has since been focused on ensuring the ceasefire holds and a long term solution is developed. This includes assistance with the humanitarian and reconstruction needs of the Lebanese people, as well as enhancing the ability of the Government of Lebanon to take and maintain full control of its territory.
Barbara Keeley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions her Department has had with (a) Egypt, (b) Jordan and (c) Saudi Arabia on the situation in Gaza and Lebanon. 
Dr. Howells: Ministers and senior officials have had regular dialogue with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on the situation in the Middle East. During my visit to Jordan in July, I discussed the situation with the Regent His Royal Highness Prince Feisal, and Prime Minister Bakhit. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the issues with Egyptian President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit during her visit to Egypt in September, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in September. We also took advantage of ministerial week at the UN General Assembly in September to discuss the issues with regional and other partners.
Barbara Keeley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her assessment is of the relationship between Hezbollah and (a) Hamas, (b) Islamic Jihad and (c) the Al Aqsa Martyrs brigade. 
Dr. Howells: While Hezbollah is a Shia movement with a separate political and national agenda from Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs brigade, all these groups share a common hostility towards Israel and we believe there may be links between them. There have been reports that Hezbollah has provided individuals from militant groups in the West Bank with finance.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the actions taken by Iran and Syria to support, fund and arm terrorist groups operating against Israel on regional stability and security. 
Dr. Howells: We are very concerned about the role of Syria and Iran. Through their support for Hezbollah, Iran and Syria encourage extremism, threaten the stability of the region and put peace in the Middle East further out of reach. We have called on Syria and Iran to stop their support for Hezbollah and end their interference in Lebanese internal affairs, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680.
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