|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what body will have responsibility for the co-ordination and monitoring of the international compact with Iraq; and when this body is planned to be formed; 
(2) if she will make a statement on the broader international assistance in the development of Iraqi security forces which is described in the international compact with Iraq; which countries are to be involved; and what form this assistance is to take; 
The international compact for Iraq (ICI) is an opportunity for the Government of Iraq to set out its economic and political priorities for the next five years, with the help of the United Nations and the international community. It will develop the key reforms necessary to enable Iraq to make the most of its own resources and build a strategy for longer-term growth. The focus will be to build a framework for Iraq's economic transformation and integration into the regional and global economy. Its scope will cover short-term and long-term economic goals to enable Iraq to become financially self-sufficient, in order to ensure economic development and sustainable growth. The UK is pleased that the Government of Iraq is
tackling these important issues and we hope that regional and international partners will support their efforts.
The Security context of the compact stresses the importance for the Government of Iraq to work with international partners to develop the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Security assistance is provided to Iraq under the auspices of the multi-national force for Iraq. This force is in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and is mandated by UN Security Council Resolutions 1546 and 1723 to develop stability and security in that country; 25 countries contribute to it, all with the common objectives of helping to provide security, training and mentoring to the Iraqi security forces until they are fully able to manage the security situation.
Implementation of the compact priorities will be overseen by the compact secretariat which was established on 28 May in Baghdad. The secretariat will operate out of the Deputy Prime Ministers' Office and will be supported by a Steering Committee and a number of sector working groups. The secretariat will be responsible for coordinating, implementing and monitoring performance of the policies and reforms laid out in the joint monitoring matrix.
The Government of Iraq plans to meet regularly with the international community to keep them updated on progress. They will produce monthly/quarterly reports on progress against indicators in the compact. Such reports will be passed for discussion to the Baghdad coordination group (BCG), which includes all participants in the Iraq compact based in country. There will also be regular meetings with donors as part of sector working group discussions.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the impact of the US surge strategy for Baghdad on security levels in the city; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: The increase in US forces in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces, as part of the Multinational Force in Iraq, is intended to support the Iraqi-led Baghdad Security Plan, which also involves the deployment of additional Iraq security force personnel as well as a range of political and economic activities. It would be premature to judge the success of the plan before all the additional US forces are in theatre.
Ultimately, the strategy is designed to create the political space necessary for progress by the Government of Iraq and other Iraqi parties and communities on national political issues, including reconciliation. We continue to provide encouragement and practical support for this process.
Margaret Beckett: High levels of violence have undermined progress on the Iraqi Governments national reconciliation plan published last year, but reconciliation and power-sharing between Iraqs different communities remains central to the countrys future. We welcome the establishment of an Executive Council comprising Prime Minister Maliki, President Talabani and the two Vice-Presidents, which first met on 15 May. The Council will allow for high-level cross-sectarian oversight of, and co-operation on, key policy issues.
The Iraqi Government is conducting dialogues with various opposition groups and tribes, and there is evidence of Sunni tribes in Anbar Province working with the authorities to confront al-Qaeda in Iraq. We are also encouraged by the constructive approach taken by all representatives on the Constitutional Review Committee, which is considering issues central to reconciliation, including federalism and distribution of resources. We hope that the recent Iraq Neighbours Meeting in Sharm el Sheikh will lead to greater regional support for the reconciliation process.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to promote and embed democracy in the countries of the Islamic world; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: We support efforts to promote democratic principles in the Islamic world, including through our contacts with governments and civil society, and projects both bilaterally through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Global Opportunities Fund and multilaterally, including through the G8-Broader Middle East and North Africa and Euromed processes.
Mr. Hoon: The Government retain the services of an honorary consul in Bishkek, overseen by our embassy office in Almaty. The honorary consul is trained to provide consular services and assistance to British nationals who find themselves in need. The current level of demand for these services does not indicate that any increased resource is needed at present, but the situation is kept under review.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) conferences and events and (b) visitors there were at (i) Lancaster House and (ii) Marlborough House in each of the last five years. 
Margaret Beckett: The UK is committed to helping Lebanon to implement UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701. As part of this, we spent approximately 1 million to support the Lebanese security sector, including the Lebanese armed forces (LAF), last financial year (2006-07). This included providing 47 Land Rovers to the LAF to increase their mobility and their capacity to implement UNSCR 1701. Our current programme of assistance includes a security sector advisor, public order training and equipment and human rights training for the LAF. We plan to maintain our engagement with and support of the LAF going forward.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of the (a) origin, (b) affiliation and (c) role of extremist Islamist groups in Lebanon; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The Government have received reports on the origin, affiliation and role of Islamic extremist groups in Lebanon from a range of different sources. These include diplomatic, intelligence, press and academic reports.
We judge that there are a number of extremist Islamist groups operating in Lebanon, of different affiliations and with different and constantly changing allegiances and objectives. Hezbollah is the main force among the Shiite population. There are also several small extremist Sunni groups operating in Lebanon; this includes Fatah Al Islam.
We continue to be concerned by the presence of such groups in Lebanon and their effect on the country's long term stability. We support full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 which calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all militias in Lebanon.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals have been put forward by the United Kingdom to resolve the
impasse over the formation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The UK is determined that those responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri should be brought to justice. In November 2006, with the UKs support, the then UN Secretary-General wrote to Prime Minister Siniora inviting the Lebanese Government to approve statutes for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. In the context of the political impasse in Lebanon this was not possible, and Prime Minister Siniora and the Lebanese parliamentary majority wrote to the UN Secretary-General asking him to explore alternative ways forward. We have since worked with Security Council partners to assist Lebanon in setting up the Tribunal. UN Security Council Resolution 1757, formally establishing the Tribunal, was successfully passed on 30 May. We will work towards its full implementation.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place with the Government of Lebanon on initiatives to make political progress in Lebanon; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The Government have remained in regular contact with the Government of Lebanon throughout the political crisis of recent months. My hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East, (Dr. Howells), and I have both recently visited Lebanon to show our ongoing support for the democratically elected Government and to discuss ways forward with both the Government and opposition. The UK is also active on the ground through our ambassador in Beirut. The UK has supported a number of regional and international efforts by Saudi Arabia, the Arab League and the UN to resolve the crisis. We continue to call on all sides in Lebanon to show flexibility and engage constructively to resolve the current political impasse.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries are believed to be breaching the UN arms embargo on Lebanon set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1701(2006); and what recent steps have been taken to improve the implementation of the arms embargo. 
Margaret Beckett: In March, the UN Secretary-General reported that there was mounting evidence that Hezbollah was rearming and smuggling arms across the Syria/Lebanon border in breach of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701. While the UN Secretary-Generals report did not specifically identify the supplier of these arms, we continue to judge that both Syria and Iran are involved in providing Hezbollah with weapons in breach of UNSCR 1701. This is a serious concern.
The UK continues to work for the full implementation of UNSCR 1701. Bilaterally, the UK has provided the Lebanese armed forces with 47 Land Rovers to increase their mobility and capacity to
implement UNSCR 1701. We are also supporting a German-led initiative to improve Lebanese border monitoring capacity.
The UK fully supported the UN Security Council decision to mandate a border assessment mission to visit Lebanon. The Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team is currently in Lebanon assessing the current border security arrangements in support of UNSCR 1701. On its return, the team will provide recommendations to both the Secretary-General and the Government of Lebanon for improving the security of the Syria/Lebanon border.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what UN mechanisms exist for the review of the implementation of the restrictions set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1701(2006). 
Margaret Beckett: The UN Secretary-General is required to report on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701 every three months. The UK fully supported the UN Security Council decision to mandate a border assessment mission to visit Lebanon. The Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team is currently in Lebanon assessing the current border security arrangements in support of UNSCR 1701. On its return, the Team will provide recommendations to both the Secretary-General and the Government of Lebanon for improving the security of the Syria/Lebanon border.
Mr. Hoon: The UK's relationship with Mexico has broadened and deepened over recent years and contacts have increased. We expect this to continue, not least through Mexico's participation in the G8 plus five outreach group.
We now hold annual high level talks and in 2007 will introduce annual economic talks at senior official level. Ministers and officials also hold many other meetings with their Mexican opposite numbers. In January, President Calderon visited the UK. His programme included meetings with my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and in addition key UK business leaders through a Confederation of British Industry event. During the visit my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met with Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa.
Most recently, my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, met Mexican Foreign Minister Espinosa on 20 April at the EU Rio ministerial meeting in Santo Domingo. In addition, officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs visited Mexico City in April to discuss UK/Mexico co-operation on sustainable development and climate change. We also liaise closely with the Mexicans over their role on the G8 plus five outreach group.
On the trade front, UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI) strategy Prosperity in a Changing World has a particular focus on deepening our trade and economic relationship with emerging markets, and Mexico is identified as one such emerging market. As a result, UKTI's network in Mexico has been increased by five members of staff. Mexico has also been identified as a potential source of inward investment and has a new dedicated inward investment team based in Mexico City.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 December 2006, Official Report, column 1511W, on the Middle East, what proposals the UK has put forward for the strengthening of the Lebanese border with Syria; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: The Government continue to attach importance to strengthening the Lebanon/Syria border in the context of implementation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701. The UN Secretary-General has recently voiced his concerns about arms smuggling across the border.
The UK fully supported the UN Security Councils decision to mandate a border assessment mission to visit Lebanon. The Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team is currently in Lebanon assessing the current border security arrangements in support of UNSCR 1701. On its return, the team will provide recommendations to both the Secretary-General and the Government of Lebanon for improving the security of the Syria/Lebanon border. We are also supporting a German-led initiative to improve Lebanese border monitoring capacity and bilaterally with the Lebanese armed forces to build their capacity.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|