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Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her Iraqi counterpart on the proposed referendum on the future of the Kirkuk; and if she will make a statement. 
I discussed the proposed referendum on the future of Kirkuk during my meeting with Prime Minister Maliki and Foreign Minister Zebari during their visit to the UK in July 2006 and my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Middle East (Dr. Howells) discussed the proposed referendum
during his visit to Kurdish-administered Iraq in July 2006. We continue to raise the prospects for Kirkuk in our meetings with the Iraqi and Kurdish regional governments.
Stock assessments of whales and small cetaceans are the responsibility of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), of which the UK is an active member. The UK opposes the hunting of dolphins and porpoises by Japan and regularly raises the matter with Japanese representatives at the IWC.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what occasions representatives of the UK Government have been present at legal proceedings in Syria concerning Dr. Kamal al-Labwani; what assessment she has made of the legal proceedings; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Kamal al-Labwani, a Syrian national, is being detained at the Adra criminal prison. He was arrested in October 2005 on his return from the United States. He is being tried under article 264 of the Syrian Penal Code, accused of inciting a foreign power to commit an aggressive act against Syria. He is also accused of spreading lies and false information against the state.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether representatives of the UK Government will attend future legal proceedings in Syria concerning Dr. Kamal al-Labwani; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Representatives of the EU and the US embassy in Damascus will continue to attend the trial of Dr. Kamal al-Labwani. An official from our embassy in Damascus attends the trial regularly as part of the EU delegation.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 October 2006, Official Report, columns 1765-6W, on the international arms embargo, what progress has been made by the Government of Syria and the Government of Lebanon in (a) setting up an effective interdiction regime to give effect to the arms embargo
set out in UNSCR 1701 and (b) establishing joint Lebanese-Syrian border patrols. 
Margaret Beckett: Following UN Security Council Resolution 1701 the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has deployed over 11,000 troops. UNIFIL has been successful in large parts of its mandate, especially in helping the Lebanese armed forces extend to the South of Lebanon and tighten sea and air borders. The international community continues to work with the Government of Lebanon to improve the security of its borders. However, we have seen little progress on setting up an effective interdiction regime by the Government of Syria, and joint Lebanese/Syrian border patrols have not been established.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who represented the United Kingdom at the informal translatlantic meeting of EU and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers of 7 December 2005. 
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the extent of UK involvement in security-related projects in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. 
Margaret Beckett: We remain concerned at the security situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and continue to work closely with international partners to improve the situation on the ground.
The UK plays a significant role in supporting the Palestinian security forces (our bilateral funding this financial year has been over US$1.6 million). The major projects are: US$320,000 for the maintenance of secure communications equipment for the Palestinian Authority Security Forces; US$600,000 for two secondees to the EU Police Co-ordination for the Palestinian Police Service (EUPOL COPPS); and US$700,000 for non-lethal equipment for the Presidential Guard. In respect of this last item, we informed the House about this project on 8 February. All these projects have been or will be financed through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool.
We also strongly support EU security work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Our assessed contribution to the European Security and Defence Policy Missions, EU Border Assistance Mission and EUPOL COPPS, amounts to US$3.8 million.
The UK is also working closely with US Security Co-ordinator General Dayton and his team in support of Security Sector Transformation within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Karni Crossing Project to improve the flow of goods from Gaza. We have seconded a military liaison officer and a police adviser to General Daytons team. A training officer is due to go out to the region shortly.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the visit of the President of the Transitional Federal Republic of Somalia to the UK on 21 to 22 February. 
Margaret Beckett: President Yusuf of the Transitional Federal Republic of Somalia visited the UK as a guest of the Government. His programme included calls on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham. He also called on the Foreign Affairs Committee and spoke at Chatham House.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Minister for Africa had on the independence of Somaliland from Somalia when she met the President of the Transitional Federal Republic of Somalia on 22 February; what the outcome was of the discussions; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The independence of Somaliland was not discussed in any detail when President Yusuf of the Transitional Federal Republic of Somalia met my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, on 22 February. We continue to encourage the Transitional Federal Government and institutions to discuss with the Somaliland authorities all issues of mutual interest.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1744, on Somalia; and what assessment she has made of its possible implementation. 
Margaret Beckett: We welcome the unanimous adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1744, sponsored by the UK, on 20 February 2007. It authorises the African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), as well as reiterating the need for reconciliation and a political process in Somalia and permitting support to the Transitional Federal Government and institutions to develop their own security sector. We commend the AU for establishing AMISOM and welcome the expected contributions from AU countries.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1725, on Somalia; and if she will make a statement. 
UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1725 has largely been overtaken by the adoption of UNSCR 1744 on 20 February 2007, following recent events in Somalia. Part of UNSCR 1725s focus was on the Union of Islamic Courts which has ceased to exist as an entity. Another part of its focus was on a peacekeeping mission of the Intergovernmental Authority on
Development in Somalia, which has now been replaced by the African Union Mission in Somalia.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Minister for Africa had on efforts to establish an African Union peacekeeping force for Somalia with the President of Transitional Federal Government of Somalia when they met on 22 February; what the outcome was of those discussions; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, discussed the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) with President Yusuf of Somalia when they met on 22 February. They agreed the arrival of AMISOM would help the security situation in Somalia and allow Ethiopia to withdraw. Lord Triesman also welcomed President Yusufs earlier announcement of a National Reconciliation Congress, which will contribute to stabilising the political situation. The UK stands ready to assist this process.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representation the Government have maintained at African Union discussions on establishing a peacekeeping force for Somalia; what role those representatives played at the discussions; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Our embassy in Addis Ababa has been closely involved in discussions on the establishment of the African Union (AU) mission in Somalia (AMISOM) with our counterparts in the AU and other international partners also supporting AMISOM. In particular, they have stressed the importance of AMISOM replacing Ethiopian troops in order to avoid a security vacuum.
The embassys contribution is directed at encouraging potential troop contributing countries to commit troops, supporting the AU in developing detailed deployment plans and working with the AUs other international partners, notably the EU, UN and the United States, to join in this effort in order to seize this historic opportunity to bring peace and stability to Somalia. UN Security Council Resolution 1744 of 20 February, which was sponsored by the UK, authorised the deployment of AMISOM.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the progress of efforts to secure an African Union peacekeeping force for Somalia; and what resources the Government have offered to contribute to this force. 
In addition to advisory support to the AU through our representation to the AU, based in our embassy in Addis Ababa, we are considering a significant financial contribution in this financial year to help fund the cost
of the mission. We will consider further support as detailed plans for the mission develop.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of progress towards the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia; whether she has discussed this issue with her (a) Ethiopian, (b) Somali, (c) European Union and (d) United States counterparts; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: Ethiopian troops have begun to withdraw from Somalia, in line with the Ethiopian Governments stated intention. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, and UK Government officials have had discussions with representatives of Ethiopia, Somalia, the European Union and the United States. There is general agreement that Ethiopia needs to continue to withdraw as the African Union mission in Somalia deploys, to avoid a security vacuum in Somalia.
Dr. Howells: Preventing the importation of cocaine from Latin America into the UK is a top priority for the UKs international counter-narcotics efforts. The UK works closely with host Governments to disrupt trafficking, and to seize consignments of illicit drugs and their financial proceeds. We are helping to build capacity among the regions law enforcement agencies and judiciary, with the provision of training and equipment. We work closely with other partners including the EU and US to maximise joint effort.
The UK devotes considerable resources within the region in its fight against cocaine and in helping to reduce harm to the UK. Through its Drugs and Crime Fund, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has allocated some £1.7 million to specific projects to support counter-narcotics efforts in the Latin American region since 2005. For the financial year commencing April 2007, a sum of £960,000 has provisionally been allocated.
The Government take a broad approach to tackling the trade in illicit drugs, through a mix of political engagement, capacity building and law enforcement support in producer, transit and consumer countries. This includes working with Governments of producer and transit countries in Latin America, as well as with Governments in countries along the main trafficking routes for drugs from Latin America (especially through the Caribbean and West Africa).
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) levels of internal conflict within the Central African Republic and (b) the impact of the conflict in Darfur on security and numbers of refugees in the Republic. 
Mr. McCartney: The UK is concerned over the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). We were pleased to see reports of the peace agreement made on 2 February between President Bozize and various rebel groups operating in the CAR, which provides for an immediate cessation of hostilities. We hope that this will promote the advance of national reconciliation and the agreement of a comprehensive accord to be signed by all the national stakeholders.
The CAR suffers from internal conflict and from the impact of instability in the region. The UK will continue to work with the UN and other member states to determine how the deployment of a peacekeeping force to Chad and the CAR could best improve security in the region.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent estimate she has made of the number who have (a) died, (b) become internally displaced and (c) become refugees into neighbouring countries as a result of the conflict in Sudan. 
Mr. McCartney: There are no reliable figures for the number of persons that have died across Darfur as a result of the conflict. However, a frequently-quoted, and plausible, figure is 200,000. An estimated 2 million people have been displaced in Darfur and a further 2 million remained displaced as a result of the earlier conflict between the north and south; though many of the latter are now returning. As a result of the Darfur conflict there are 233,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad. There are 340,000 refugees from southern Sudan in neighbouring countries.
Every death and every displacement in Sudan is a tragedy. We call on all sides to cease the violence in Darfur immediately, to renew the political process and accept the African Union/UN peacekeeping force for Darfur.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the UN on those cited for human rights abuses in Darfur as a result of the International Criminal Court investigation. 
Mr. McCartney: The Government welcome the fact that the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutors investigation has got to the point at which he is able to ask for the issuing of summonses. It is now for the judges to decide whether to approve this request. The UK has not discussed the individuals under investigation with the UN given the ICCs independent status. However, UK officials are in regular contact with officials of the ICC about a range of issues and the court continues to have the Governments full support for its activities.
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