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6 Dec 2006 : Column 480W—continued

Iran

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on Iran's referral to the Security Council. [107290]

Dr. Howells: We remain deeply concerned by Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran has not met the requirements set out in successive Resolutions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, the statement by the President of the UN Security Council on 30 March 2006, and in Security Council Resolution 1696 of 31 July 2006. These include the requirement that Iran should co-operate fully with the IAEA and should fully suspend all uranium enrichment related and reprocessing activities. We are determined that Iran should comply fully with its obligations. E3+3 Foreign Ministers met in London on 6 October 2006 and agreed that Iran's failure to address IAEA Board and Security Council resolution, and take the steps that would enable a return to negotiations, leaves no option but to seek a new
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Security Council resolution adopting measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter. We are now discussing a draft with other members of the Security Council.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK is taking to ensure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons; and if she will make a statement. [107291]

Dr. Howells: We are deeply concerned by Iran’s nuclear programme. We remain committed to a negotiated solution, and regret that Iran has not taken the steps that would enable negotiations to begin on the basis of the proposals presented in June by Javier Solana on behalf of the E3+3 (UK, France, Germany + US, Russia, China). These proposals would form the basis of a long-term agreement: they offer Iran everything it needs to develop a modern civil nuclear power industry as well as political and economic benefits while meeting international concerns.

We are determined that Iran should comply fully with its obligations. E3+3 Foreign Ministers met in London on 6 October 2006 and agreed that Iran’s failure to take the steps required by International Atomic Energy Agency Board and Security Council resolutions leaves no option but to seek a new Security Council resolution adopting measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter. We are now discussing a draft with other members of the Security Council.

The E3+3’s proposals remain on the table and we continue to urge Iran to take the positive path.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the threat posed to regional security of Iran’s nuclear programme. [107292]

Dr. Howells: The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would pose a serious threat to the region’s stability and security.

The most recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General, Dr Mohammed El-Baradei, makes clear that Iran is not co-operating fully with the IAEA, and has not taken the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council. These are essential to build confidence that the intentions of Iran’s nuclear programme are exclusively peaceful. In particular, Iran has not met the requirement to suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, and indeed in October began operating a second 164- centrifuge cascade.

We continue to urge Iran to comply fully with IAEA Board and UN Security Council resolutions and to take the steps that would enable negotiations to begin on the basis of the proposals presented in June by Javier Solana on behalf of the E3+3 (UK, France, Germany + US, Russia, China). Iran should be in no doubt that if it does not meet its obligations, the Security Council will respond. In the light of Iran’s failure to take the steps required in resolution 1696 of 31 July 2006, we are presently discussing a new draft Security Council resolution that would impose measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter.


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Joint Ministerial Committee on Europe

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times the Joint Ministerial Committee on Europe has met in (a) 2006 and (b) the last five years; and what the format was of each meeting. [104786]

Mr. Hoon: The Joint Ministerial Committee on Europe has met five times in 2006. During the last five years the Committee has met as follows:

The committee is made up of the following Ministers:

Other Ministers of the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government may be invited to attend as necessary.

Maldives

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has received reports of (a) threats and incarceration of those who oppose the Government by peaceful means and (b) other anti-democratic abuses in the Maldives; and if she will make a statement. [104785]


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Dr. Howells: We are aware of reports that a number of members and supporters of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have been detained prior to and following 10 November, the date of a political rally they planned but then cancelled. We have and continue to receive such reports directly from Maldives and through our high commission in Colombo, also accredited to Maldives. We remain concerned about the Government’s approach toward the opposition. We strongly support democratic reforms in Maldives and freedom of association and expression are essential to an inclusive reform process.

Our British high commissioner in Colombo has been in direct contact with the Maldivian Government and senior MDP leaders and has urged both sides to exercise maximum restraint and has emphasised to each their joint responsibility to not endanger the democracy agenda. We continue to underline directly to them the need for open discussions among all political parties on the implementation of the democratisation process and on the promotion of democracy in Maldives. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials did so most recently with Dr. Shaheed, Maldivian Foreign Minister on 1 December. As did our high commissioner during his visit to Malé on 3 December when he raised our concerns with President Gayoom and addressed the National Council of the MDP.

Nuclear Disarmament

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on nuclear disarmament were supported by the United Kingdom at its 61(st) session. [104585]

Dr. Howells: The UK supported the Japanese resolution entitled “Renewed determination toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons”. We also voted in favour of a further 40 resolutions supporting a wide range of issues from the Chemical Weapons Convention to the Arms Trade Treaty of which we were a leading proponent.

Romania and Bulgaria

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions her Department has held with the Home Office on the restrictions on migrant workers from Bulgaria and Romania; and if she will make a statement. [106873]

Mr. Hoon: Home Office Ministers and I discussed the decision to open gradually the UK labour market to workers from Bulgaria and Romania in the Asylum and Migration Cabinet Committee chaired by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The committee was supported by a ministerial working group and by official level working groups. I refer my right hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement made to the House on 24 October 2006, Official Report, columns 82-84WS, by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on the decision to restrict access to the UK labour market for workers from Romania and Bulgaria.


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Rwanda: Arrest Warrants

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will take steps to bring before the next meeting of EU Foreign Ministers the matter of the issue of arrest warrants by French judicial authorities for nine associates of the Rwandan President. [107751]

Mr. McCartney: These warrants are a matter between the French judiciary and the Rwandan Government. We have no current plans to raise it at the European level. All parties are aware of our view that they should avoid long-term harm to their bilateral relations.

Sudan

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with (a) the UN and (b) the government of Sudan on the introduction of peace-keeping forces into the East of the country. [105886]

Mr. McCartney: The Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement was signed by the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front in Asmara on 14 October. The UK warmly welcomes the Agreement and we hope it will be the basis for lasting peace and security in eastern Sudan; and call on the parties to continue to work together to achieve this. The process was discussed in the margins of the UN General Assembly in September in the course of reviewing peace and security throughout the country.

Following the signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) maintained a presence in eastern Sudan to monitor the withdrawal of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army from the area. UNMIS withdrew once this process was completed earlier this year.

Since the signing of the peace agreement there has been no reports of major violence in the area and neither side has requested the introduction of a peace-keeping force. This issue, therefore, is currently not a priority for our discussions with the UN and the Government of National Unity.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being put in place to provide greater protection for refugees who have fled to Eastern Chad from Darfur; and if she will make a statement. [107528]

Mr. McCartney: We are very concerned about the protection of Sudanese refugees and the internally displaced in Eastern Chad following the latest rebel offensive. The UK has argued for the need to consider deploying a peace support operation in Eastern Chad.

The UN has recently sent a team to Chad to consider the need for a UN Mission there. The UN Secretary-General is due to report back to the Security Council later this month.

We are, meanwhile, pressing the Governments of Sudan and Chad to stop supporting each others’ rebels and fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement. We are monitoring the situation in Chad
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very closely and are providing £4 million in humanitarian assistance to Chad in 2006. We will consider providing further support to the humanitarian response if required.

Turkey

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with EU counterparts on Turkey’s accession to the EU; what representations she has made to EU counterparts on the possible suspension of negotiations with Turkey; and if she will make a statement. [104723]

Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have regular and frequent discussions with our EU counterparts on Turkey’s EU accession process. We remain firmly committed to Turkey’s accession to the EU. While recognising that Turkey must fulfil its obligations, we stress to our EU counterparts that Turkey’s is a strategically important accession.

Uganda

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the withdrawal of the Lord’s Resistance Army from peace talks with the Ugandan Government; and what assessment she has made of the implications for stability in Uganda. [107731]

Mr. McCartney: The peace talks are currently in recess for consultations. There were press reports on 29 and 30 November that a spokesman for the Lord’s Resistance Army had suspended their participation in further talks. The Government of Uganda has confirmed that they remain committed to the peace process and the mediation team, led by the Government of Southern Sudan, has not indicated that the talks have been suspended. The security situation in northern Uganda has greatly improved since the talks process began and is currently stable.

This is a complex and challenging peace process. We continue to call on all parties to implement the agreements reached to date and remain focused on securing a peaceful resolution to this long-running conflict.

UK Prisoners Abroad

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial and other support is given to non-government organisations which seek to assist UK prisoners abroad; and in which countries such organisations have representatives. [107588]

Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides financial support for two non-governmental organisations that assist British Nationals in prison abroad: Prisoners Abroad and Reprieve. Prisoners Abroad received core funding of £150,000 in Financial Year (FY) 2004-05, £145,500 in FY 2005-06 and £100,000 in FY 2006-07. We also pay £35,000 per year to Prisoners Abroad for a Human
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Rights Adviser to be seconded to our Consular Directorate. Prisoners Abroad is a welfare charity which is solely based in the UK and does not have any representatives overseas.

Reprieve received FCO funding of £20,000 in FY 2005-06 and £30,000 in FY 2006-07. Reprieve provides assistance to British nationals facing execution around the world regardless of guilt or innocence. The FCO provides funding to Reprieve UK, which is based in London. Reprieve has sister organisations in the USA and Australia and UK-based staff travel overseas regularly to work on individual cases.

UK-Burma Trade

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what UK-Burma trade is permitted under Government rules. [106183]

Mr. McCartney: Under the terms of the EU Common Position on Burma trade in arms and equipment that might be used for internal repression and trade is banned. Some other items are restricted by EU regulations or international conventions with global application. There are no other restrictions on trade.


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