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EU Foreign Minister

20. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions she has had with the German Chancellor on proposals for an EU Foreign Minister. [134754]


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Mr. Hoon: I have had regular discussions with my German colleagues during their presidency. So too has my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who met Chancellor Merkel most recently on 24 April.

Our discussions cover many issues, including the way forward on institutional reform. There is no consensus at present among EU partners on this issue. We will discuss it at the European Council in June.

Sheikh Hasina

21. Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations she has made to the Bangladeshi Government on the position of Sheikh Hasina. [134755]

Dr. Howells: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave her today (UIN 134701).

Afghanistan: Peace Keeping Operations

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she expects the European Union Security and Defence Policy policing mission to Afghanistan to be launched; and what decisions have been made about the UK contribution to the mission. [132710]

Margaret Beckett: The European Union Security and Defence Policy policing mission to Afghanistan is scheduled to be launched in June. The mission will be staffed by approximately 160 personnel, of which the UK plans to contribute about 10 per cent.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role she expects the European Union Security and Defence Policy policing mission to Afghanistan to play in the field of counter- narcotics; and if she will make a statement. [132711]

Margaret Beckett: The European Union Security and Defence Policy policing mission to Afghanistan aims to raise the quality of policing in Afghanistan. The mission contains an objective to integrate the Counter-Narcotics Police of Afghanistan into the wider police force in order to factor counter-narcotics into all law enforcement efforts.

Business: Corruption

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which UK officials attended the last three meetings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions. [134650]

Mr. McCartney: Each meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Working Group on Bribery takes place over three days. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) leads the UK delegation and not all UK officials attend every session of each meeting. In total, the following UK officials attended the last three meetings:


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Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the (a) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and (b) OECD member states on the publicisation of the work of the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions as it affects investigations in the UK. [134652]

Mr. McCartney: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Bribery regularly publicises aspects of its work, for example by press statements on the group's country monitoring reports. Such press statements are discussed and agreed in plenary by all members of the group. However, the group operates under an understanding that the country being monitored has the right to comment on the text, but foregoes its right to block the final text.

As the hon. Member is aware, recent meetings of this group in January and March have discussed, among other subjects, the circumstances surrounding the discontinuance of the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into allegations about BAE Systems' activities in Saudi Arabia. At the end of both the January and March meetings, the group agreed a press statement on the UK under the established procedure described above. In the run-up to and during these meetings, British officials discussed with the OECD Secretariat and partner OECD Governments various relevant aspects including possible options for press communications, and how those might be organised. This included proposals for a formal press briefing at the end of the March meeting.

Since the March meeting of the Working Group, there have been no formal press communications proposed. British officials have therefore made no further representations concerning the group's media activities.

Chad: Peacekeeping Operations

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the proposals for a United Nations peacekeeping force in Chad and the Central African Republic. [135261]

Mr. McCartney: We remain very concerned about the humanitarian and security situation in Eastern Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) and the spill over of violence from Darfur. On 16 April my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary called for UN
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Security Council agreement to a UN peacekeeping operation in Chad, as called for under UN Security Council Resolution 1706.

We are working with the UN and partners on the Security Council to seek to address any concerns raised by the Governments of Chad and CAR about the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping force. We continue to urge the Government of Chad to improve regional security and work actively with non-governmental organisations operating in the region.

Departments: Official Hospitality

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 17 April 2007, Official Report, columns 564-65W, on Departments: official hospitality, how much the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine has advised her Department to be a suitable expenditure on stock for (a) the Government cellar and (b) other hospitality for which her Department is responsible in each of the last three years. [133991]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 14 July 2006, Official Report, columns 2137-38W. The Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine (GHACPW) advises Government Hospitality according to the requirements of the Government cellar, wine market prices, the availability of individual wines and vintages and their quality. The GHACPW does not determine the level of expenditure on wines and spirits; that is the responsibility of the head of Government Hospitality. The GHACPW does not provide advice on expenditure for the purchase of wine for other hospitality carried out by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Departments: Paper

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of paper used (a) for photocopying and (b) in printed publications by her Department was from recycled sources in each of the last three years. [134044]

Mr. Hoon: 100 per cent. of copier paper purchased by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) through contracts is from recycled sources. This was the case in each of the last three years.

In each of the past three years, one hundred per cent of paper used in printed publications purchased through contracts used by the FCO was from recycled sources.

Statistics are not available for paper that was not purchased through contracts. This is because the FCO’s overseas missions have the ability to procure their paper locally where this offers the best overall value for money.

Dhabihu'llah Mahrami

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of the expropriation of the home of Mr. Dhabihu’llah Mahrami, who died in prison in Iran on 15 December 2005; and if she will make a statement. [134442]


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Dr. Howells: We have not received reports of the expropriation of the home of Mr. Dhabihu’llah Mahrami, but we are prepared to take further action as appropriate.

We understand that Mr. Mahrami died in custody on 15 December 2005. Mr. Mahrami’s case had previously appeared on the EU list of cases of concern used in the EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue. The EU raised the death of Mr. Mahrami in a meeting with the Iranian authorities on 31 January 2006 and handed over a note verbale requesting further information.

We continue to have concerns about the situation of religious minorities in Iran and treatment of the Baha’i community in particular. We often receive reports of discrimination against Baha’is in Iran.

We continue to press the Iranian authorities to take seriously their international human rights obligations, uphold the right to freedom of religion and belief, as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and address the discrimination suffered by Iranian Baha’is. The UN General Assembly Resolution about the human rights situation in Iran, adopted in December 2006 and co-sponsored by the EU, expressed serious concern at

and

Embassies: Closures

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which UK (a) embassies and (b) consulates have been closed in each of the last three years. [134627]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has closed nine embassies and high commissions over the last three years. Fifteen consulates have been closed over the same period of time. These missions are listed in the following table. In addition, six commercial and information offices, staffed by locally engaged staff were also closed.

The FCO continuously reviews the deployment of its resources and aligns them flexibly in line with UK interests to the benefit of the British taxpayer.

Missions closed
Year: 1 April to 31 March Embassies/High Commissions Consulates

2004-05

Douala(1), Tarawa(1) and Oporto

2005-06

Nassau, Abidjan(2), Maseru, Antananarivo, Asuncion, Mbabane, Nuku' alofa and Port Vila

Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Fukuoka(1), Dallas, San Juan(1) and Aden(1)

2006-07

Dili

Adelaide(1), Hamburg, Nagoya, Kingstown(1), Gothenburg and Seattle(1)

(1 )Consulates staffed by locally engaged staff only. (2 )Operations at this embassy have been suspended due to the uncertain security situation in the Ivory Coast.

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Ethiopia: Arms Trade

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what responses she has received on Ethiopia’s arms trade with North Korea; what assessment she has made of whether that trade is compliant with UN Security Council Resolution 1718; and if she will make a statement; [132419]

(2) what discussions she has had with her US counterpart on Ethiopia's arms trade with North Korea; what the outcome was of those discussions; and if she will make a statement. [132420]

Margaret Beckett: We are in contact with US and other counterparts about issues relating to the enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1718, including Ethiopia’s arms trade with North Korea. We continue to support vigorous implementation of the measures in the resolution and the work of the Security Council’s Sanctions Committee for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in monitoring implementation and compliance.

Foreign Policy

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what units, working groups or task forces her Department has established in the last 12 months on the future direction of the Government's foreign policy; which officials have been appointed to those groups; and if she will make a statement. [133231]

Margaret Beckett: No such units, working groups, or task forces have been established in the last 12 months in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). We have, however, reconstituted the FCO's Policy Planning Staff, a strengthened successor to the Strategic Policy Team. They, and others in the FCO, contributed significantly to the Britain in the World exercise, part of the Pathways to the Future Policy Review, which examined the challenges we face internationally and considered how we can be more effective in achieving our international objectives going forward.

Iran: Discrimination

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the adverse treatment by teachers and school administrators in Iran of children belonging to the Baha’i faith; and if she will make a statement. [134440]

Dr. Howells: We continue to have concerns about the situation of religious minorities in Iran and treatment of the Baha’i community in particular.

We have received some reports from the National Assembly of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom about persecution of Baha’i school children and are currently trying to find out more information about these serious claims. We will take further action as appropriate.

We continue to raise the situation of religious minorities bilaterally, and through the EU, and have pressed the Iranian authorities on many occasions to take seriously their international human rights obligations, uphold the right to freedom of religion and belief as described
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in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and address the intimidation and discrimination suffered by Iranian Baha’is. We also take action at the UN and in December 2006, we along with all EU countries, co-sponsored a resolution on human rights in Iran which expressed serious concern at

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have made representations to the Iranian authorities on the treatment of the Baha’i faith and the Baha’i community by leading Iranian media outlets; and if she will make a statement. [134441]

Dr. Howells: We continue to have concerns about the situation of religious minorities in Iran, and treatment of the Baha’i community in particular. We regularly receive reports of intimidation and discrimination against Baha’is in Iran.

We remain concerned about reports that Iranian newspapers including Keyhan have been carrying out a propaganda campaign against the Baha’i community. We raised our concerns about this in an EU demarche on 11 April 2006, and on 10 April 2006, EU Foreign Ministers underlined their

We continue to raise the situation of the Baha’is with the Iranian authorities, bilaterally and through the EU. We also take action at the UN and in December 2006, we along with all EU countries, co-sponsored a resolution on human rights in Iran, which expressed serious concern at


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