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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment
she has made of the effect of the package of aid offered by the United States to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the likelihood of the DPRK (a) returning to the Six Party Talks and (b) dismantling nuclear equipment and technology; and what representations she plans to the to the DPRK to encourage that country to dismantle its weapons technology. 
Mr. McCartney: Despite media speculation, our understanding is that no detailed proposals have yet been put forward by any party during the general discussions that have taken place between the US, China and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). Both the US and China continue to work hard to bring the DPRK back to the negotiating table, using the 19 September 2005 joint declaration as the basis for moving forward. Although the date for resumption of the talks is still under negotiation, we remain hopeful that it will be resolved early in the new year. Negotiation through the Six Party Talks remains the most effective way to solve the Korean peninsula nuclear issue. We continue to be fully supportive of this process.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the report by Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on torture, on torture in police custody in Paraguay; what action she is taking (a) unilaterally and (b) multilaterally on the (i) prevention and of torture (ii) safeguarding of human rights in Paraguay; and what representations she is making on the compliance of Paraguays criminal code with Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture. 
Mr. Hoon: The Special Rapporteur has yet to submit his full report, which we will study when it is presented to the Human Rights Council. Our ambassador in Buenos Aires, who is accredited to Paraguay, met the Foreign Minister on 5 December 2006. They discussed the Special Rapporteurs visit, including the preliminary recommendation for the definition of torture to be widened in the Paraguayan Criminal Code so it complied with Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture. The Foreign Minister told the ambassador that the Government of Paraguay was committed to working with the international community, including the Special Rapporteur, to improve human rights and eradicate torture.
Multilaterally, the UK works closely with our international partners against torture. This has been a UK priority since the launch of the anti-torture initiative in 1998. The UK is a committed supporter of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). In June 2004, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary launched a world-wide lobbying campaign to encourage other countries to sign and ratify the OPCAT. Paraguay ratified the OPCAT on 2 December 2005. In partnership with the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has
produced manuals and toolkits which have been used in Paraguay to help with the implementation of the OPCAT.
Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the effective pay award date is for her Department's staff; and what the actual implementation date was in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 11 December 2006]: We pay annual pay awards to staff in both the delegated grades and the senior management structure/senior civil service with effect from 1 April. The dates when we actually completed the calculation and implementation of the awards, some awards were paid earlier, in each of the last five years was as follows:
|Delegated grades||Senior management structure|
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much her Department spent on commissioning public opinion research in each of the last five years for which records are available. 
Mr. Hoon: In the financial years 2001 to 2005, the most recent years for which figures are available, the total cost of public opinion research conducted by or on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) centrally, was £542,313.
The FCOs overseas posts and its non-departmental public bodies also occasionally commission public opinion research, but details are not recorded centrally. Information about the costs could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the
answer from the Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-190W, on the retirement age, what her Departments policy is for the setting of retirement ages for staff below the Senior Civil Service under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992. 
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not impose a retirement age on staff below the Senior Management Structure/Senior Civil Service. Subject to the normal rules on performance and attendance, staff are free to choose when they wish to retire.
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which staff in her Department are seconded from organisations with charitable status which have (a) costs and (b) salaries met (i) in part and (ii) in whole (A) from public funds and (B) by the charity from which they are seconded. 
Mr. Hoon: We are aware of just one member of staff who is seconded to this Department from an organisation with charitable status. This Department pays the organisation the full costs and salary of the secondment.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent estimate she has made of the amount of arms entering Somalia; what representations she has received regarding the recent activities of terrorists loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts; and what steps she is taking to ensure that the United Nations Security Council arms embargo is upheld. 
Mr. McCartney: There is no accurate way of estimating the level of arms entering Somalia, however the report of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia warns of an increasing military build up, exacerbated by violations of the arms embargo. Some of the states alleged to have breached the embargo, including Iran, have denied the allegations. We have regular contacts with representatives of the Somali community and the Transitional Federal institutions, who raise their concerns about the activities of terrorists in Somalia.
UN Security Council Resolution 1725, unanimously adopted on 6 December, emphasised the continued contribution made to Somalias peace and security by the arms embargo and demanded that all member states fully comply with it. Together with our Security Council partners we are considering ways to strengthen the arms embargo and improve the effectiveness of its implementation. We have urged all parties inside Somalia and neighbouring states to respect the arms embargo and do nothing which could provoke violence in Somalia.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of the talks between Ethiopia's Deputy Foreign Minister and Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts; and what assessment she has made of the implications of those talks for (a) human rights, (b) peace, (c) support for the transitional government and (d) conflict resolution in Somalia. 
Mr. McCartney: We understand that there have been a number of contacts between the Ethiopian authorities and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). We do not know the content of this dialogue. We encourage all attempts at dialogue which could bring a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.
We note the commitments given by the UIC to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Djibouti, reported in IGAD's communiqué of 2 December. We hope that the UIC honours these commitments and engages constructively in negotiations with the Transitional Federal government. We believe the implications for human rights, peace, support for the transitional government and conflict resolution in Somalia could be positive.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the clashes between rival factions in Malakal, Upper Nile State in Sudan; and if she will make a statement. 
The political situation in Sudan continues to give us cause for concern. The situation in the South of Sudan has been mostly stable since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) in January 2005. However, there has been a lack of progress towards national elections and limited progress on the resolution of issues of contention between north and south. The recent fighting between a militia aligned with the Sudanese armed forces in Malakal and the
SPLM, southern Sudan is a cause for grave concern, and represents the most serious violation of the CPA since it was signed.
Progress in Darfur has been held back by a lack of public support for the Darfur Peace Agreement. Implementation of that Agreement, which was signed in May, has been limited. There is continued fighting in Darfur, especially in the north and most recently in the town of El Fasher.
The Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front concluded a Peace Agreement on eastern Sudan in Asmara on 14 October. We welcome this and hope that the Agreement will form the basis for lasting peace and security in eastern Sudan. The Agreement is the first step towards reconstruction and development in the region.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the recent meeting of the Principal Deputy Special Representative of Sudan, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, and Salim Ahmed Salim, the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union. 
Mr. McCartney: During his recent visit to Khartoum, the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) met with the Acting UN Special Representative for Sudan to take forward implementation of the conclusions of the AU Peace and Security Council meeting in Abuja on 30 November. They agreed to strengthen AU/UN cooperation. In addition, the UN is coordinating its work with the AU through its representatives at the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) Headquarters in El Fasher and the AU Secretariat in Addis Ababa. At this stage, these discussions include further implementation of the UN light support package to AMIS, planning for a heavy support package and the political process as set out in the Addis Ababa conclusions of 16 November.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment was made by the Director of the Africa Division in the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations of the situation on the Sudanese-Chadian border in her briefing to the UN Security Council; and what action she plans to take as a result of her reports. 
Mr. McCartney: The Africa Director of the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) briefed the Security Council on the situation in Chad, along the Chad-Sudan border and in the Central African Republic, on 5 December. The briefing outlined the deteriorating situation on the ground and preliminary DPKO thinking on what could be done to address it. There was also a discussion about the risk of wider regional conflict.
The UN DPKO is still considering what recommendations to make for stabilisation forces. We expect them to present these to the Security Council later in December and will take a decision then on how to respond.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 6 December 2006, Official Report,
column 480W, on General Salah Abdallah, which officials discussed Darfur with General Salah Abdallah; and what (a) topics were raised and (b) progress was made during those discussions. 
Mr. McCartney: The Government do not divulge the names of officials involved in meetings. While General Salah Abdallah was here he discussed Darfur with British officials. We continue to monitor the situation in Dafur and remain committed to finding a peaceful resolution to this appalling conflict.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) the level of fighting and (b) the deaths from conflict in southern Sudan since the signing of the North South Peace Agreement. 
Mr. McCartney: The overall level of fighting in the south of Sudan has reduced since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in January 2005. However, we were gravely concerned by the recent fighting between a militia aligned with the Sudanese armed forces in Malakal and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, southern Sudan, which was the most serious violation of the CPA since it was signed. The CPA makes clear provisions to tackle militia that operate outside the Government's control. But this process is not yet complete. This, coupled with an undisciplined and unstructured Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA, the south's standing army), means the security situation in southern Sudan remains fragile.
We are not able to provide a definitive figure for the number of deaths from conflict in the south since January 2005 due to the lack of confirmed data from the SPLA, the UN and the Government of southern Sudan. The UN does, however, estimate that approximately 200 people have died following the major spates of violence in mid October and in Malakal last week. Improving security for the people of southern Sudan remains a high priority for our political dialogue and development programme in Sudan.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of the recent conflict in Malakal, Southern Sudan; what assessment she has made of the effect of that conflict upon the peace agreement; what recent reports she has received on the activities of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army; when she expects to receive an assessment of the situation from UNMIS; and what steps she is taking to further the restoration of peace in the Upper Nile state. 
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