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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what response she has made to the decision taken by North Korea to commence a nuclear disarmament programme; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: We welcome the Democratic Peoples Republic of Koreas (DPRK) commitment to shut down and seal the Yongbyon nuclear facility and invite back International Atomic Energy Agency personnel to monitor the agreement. This is an essential first step towards the goal of full denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The UK bilaterally and the EU will continue to urge the DPRK to fulfil the commitments it has entered into. We remain profoundly concerned by the nuclear test conducted on 9 October 2006 and look to the DPRK to stop all activities of concern as set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1718. Meanwhile, the sanctions remain in place.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what average time was taken between the receipt by HM high commission, Islamabad of a registered appeal against the refusal of entry clearance and a review being completed by an entry clearance manager in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Dr. Howells: During January to February 2007, the most recent period for which the information is available, the average time taken between receipt of a registered appeal and a review being completed at our visa section in Islamabad is approximately six weeks.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contracts were awarded by her Department to private military security companies for work in (a) Iraq, (b) Afghanistan and (c) other countries in each of the last five years; what the (i) value and (ii) purpose was of each such contract; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has a duty of care to its staff and to ensure that all contracts are subject to rigorous selection so that we obtain full value for money. Any company engaged by the Department needs to pass through a stringent and transparent procurement process in line with Public Procurement Guidelines.
The information in the table covers contracts put in place by the FCO with private security companies, and reflects the contract values concerned and not the actual spend. Many of these contracts, most notably those in Iraq and Afghanistan, also cover other Government Departments with the costs thereof being shared out accordingly.
The FCO has in excess of 200 posts and operates a devolved budgetary system for the contracting of security services, with the exception of certain posts in hostile/high-threat environments (in the table), therefore complete central records of contracts with private security companies are not maintained.
Each post would need to be contacted to provide details of the companies used and the value of each security contract. Such office-wide outreach would require significant resource, in excess of the current threshold for disproportionate cost.
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Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking in relation to recent clashes between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government. 
Dr. Howells: I refer my right hon. Friend to the written answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on 13 March 2007, Official Report, columns 246- 47W. The UK urges both sides to the conflict to pursue a peaceful solution and to do more to protect the civilian population.
Dr. Howells: We receive frequent representations from hon. Members, members of the Sri Lankan diaspora and non-governmental organisations on the conflict in Sri Lanka. These representations reflect a wide variety of views.
Dr. Howells: The EU, as one of the co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference, has a key role to play in the Sri Lankan peace process. Officials in London, Brussels and at our high commission in Colombo are in frequent contact with the German EU Presidency, EU partners and the European Commission.
Dr. Howells: I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to him on 14 March 2007, Official Report, column 283, and to the written answer I gave to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on 13 March 2007, Official Report, columns 246-247W.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking in relation to recent reports of human rights abuses against Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade spoke at the fourth session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva this month about the need for the Sri Lankan Government to move forward with the effective investigation of human rights violations and to hold those perpetrating such acts to account. There should be no immunity for human rights violators.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Foreign Secretary of (a) Libya, (b) Egypt and (c) Chad on the Darfur Region of Sudan. 
Mr. McCartney: The UKs ambassador-at-large for the Sudanese Peace Process, Christopher Prentice, met the Chadian Foreign Minister on 20 February. He also met senior representatives of the Government of Libya on 21 February.
The UKs Permanent Representative-designate to the UN in New York, John Sawers, discussed Darfur with a range of senior interlocutors in Egypt on 4 to 5 March. And my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, met the Egyptian Ambassador on 6 March.
With all our interlocutors we emphasise the need for an immediate ceasefire in Darfur, an early resumption of the political process there, and the rapid implementation of the UN support package for the African Union Mission in Sudan, culminating in the formation of the hybrid force.
Mr. McCartney: We take every opportunity to press both Sudan and Chad to stop supporting each others rebels and to fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement. Our ambassador-designate to the United Nations in New York, John Sawers, did so in meetings with the Government of Sudan on 6 March. And Christopher Prentice, our ambassador-at-large for the Sudanese Peace Process, raised the issue in meetings with the Government of Chad on 20 February. Given the importance of this issue, we will continue to press both Governments on this matter. We also regularly discuss Sudan and Chad with our partners in the Security Council and with regional Governments such as Libya.
The UN-African Union (AU) hybrid force for Darfur will be the final part of a three-phase approach to increasing UN support to the
AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) agreed in Addis Ababa in November last year. The initial stage (the Light Support Package) has been partially deployed. The AU and UN have agreed on the details of the second stage (the Heavy Support Package), but have been waiting, since 24 January, for President Bashirs acceptance of these. The UNs Department of Peace-Keeping Operations is working with the AU to finalise details of the Hybrid force.
My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, visited New York last month to press the UN for more rapid action to implement the support package for AMIS. We have passed the same message to the AU. In the meanwhile we remain committed to supporting the AU force, to which we have committed over £65 million since its inception.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her Namibian counterpart on the progress of the African Union in dealing with the humanitarian situation in Darfur. 
Mr. McCartney: The issue of Darfur is raised through our high commission in Windhoek, as part of a regular dialogue on African peacekeeping issues. The issue was discussed most recently on 22 February, when heads of EU missions met the Namibian Deputy Foreign Minister in Windhoek.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the President of Indonesia to request that Indonesias former Information Minister, Yunus Yosfiah, give his account of events in Balibo in October 1975 to the Court following the request of the Deputy Coroner made during the inquest in New South Wales into the death of Brian Peters; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: The Australian Government has not sought our help with the inquest. We have previously made representations on the Balibo case to the Indonesian government and they are aware of our position.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) the latest security situation in Timor-Leste and (b) the likelihood of (i) the Presidential and (ii) Parliamentary elections being conducted in a free and fair manner; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McCartney: Our Embassy in Jakarta covers Timor-Leste. The Embassy deployed a team of four officials to Dili on 7 March to assess the situation on the ground. They reported that Dili was calm at the time of their arrival, but that the security situation remains fragile and susceptible to change at any moment.
We are concerned by the deterioration of the security situation in Timor-Leste and the resulting casualties and have urged all concerned to bring an end to the violence and resolve the problems within the framework of the constitution and laws.
Eight candidates have registered for the Presidential elections scheduled for 9 April and the date of the Parliamentary elections will be set after this date. The UN Mission to Timor-Leste (UNMIT) has been working to ensure that the elections take place on time and there has been no indication that they are likely to be postponed. UNMIT will provide trained and experienced election monitors to ensure that the elections are carried out in a fair and open manner.
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