|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
21 July 2008 : Column 870Wcontinued
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many requests for exemptions from UN travel restrictions on Iran have been received by the committee established pursuant to UN Resolution 1737 (2006); and how many of these have been granted. 
Since its inception, the Committee has received only one notification, from the Russian Federation, of the travel to Moscow, pursuant to paragraph 10 of UN Security Council Resolution 1737 (2006), of an individual subject to the travel notification requirement. A notification received from Indonesia, regarding the travel to Jakarta of an individual working for the Atomic
Energy Organisation of Iran, was subsequently established as unnecessary as the individual was not listed under the relevant resolutions.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on (a) the provisions in the recent technical support contracts between oil multinational corporations and the government of Iraq and (b) preferences for future contracts involving oil extraction attached to the technical support contract; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: The Government are aware that the Government of Iraq and international oil companies are in the process of negotiating technical support contracts. Such contracts, and the details therein, are a sovereign issue for the Iraqi government.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on the legal immunity of private military contractors in the successor agreement to the UN mandate for Iraq. 
Dr. Howells: The Government use private military and security companies to provide security for our diplomatic posts and for civilian officials in Iraq. As such, they play an important role in enabling us to achieve our objectives in Iraq. Although we have held initial discussions with the Government of Iraq on ways of securing a legal basis for activities by UK armed forces in Iraq following the anticipated expiry of UN Security Council Chapter VII authority, these have focussed on UK armed forces' operations and immunities. The issue of private military and security companies will be considered, if appropriate, in any future negotiations with the Government of Iraq.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance his Department has issued on the obligations of UK companies under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 in relation to the purchase of goods from illegal Israeli settlements; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: None. It is for companies to take their own advice about their legal position.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what reports he has received on UK companies buying goods from illegal Israeli settlements; 
(2) what representations he has received on the compliance with international law of UK companies buying goods from illegal Israeli settlements. 
We are concerned that goods from illegal Israeli settlements may be entering the UK under false pretences and without paying the correct customs duties.
We have discussed this issue with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian General Delegation in London and non-governmental organisations. Several media outlets have also contacted us about the issue. We take this issue seriously and have alerted HM Revenue and Customs to it so that they can take appropriate action.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to reply to the letter of 22 April 2008, reference M7079/8, from the honourable Member for Wycombe, forwarded from the Home Office, on passport photograph requirements for visas and the hijab in relation to Dubai. 
Mr. Byrne: I have been asked to reply.
I confirm that Lin Homer, chief executive of UKBA, replied on 14 July 2008.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implementation of Road Map commitments by the Palestinian and Israeli governments, in respect of their commitments under the November 2007 Annapolis agreement; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The US has appointed General Fraser to monitor implementation of the Quartet Roadmap. We expect all parties to fulfil their Roadmap obligations. This includes Palestinian work to improve their security sector, and as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said to the House on 18 June
it is also important that, as the President of the US said only two days ago, the Israelis stop the settlement programme that is causing so much distress among the Palestinians.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his French counterpart on the EU's political and economic strategy towards north Africa during the French presidency of the EU. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: Both my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary attended the EU summit in Paris on 13 July, hosted by President Sarkozy to launch the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean. The UK welcomed the efforts of the French presidency to reinvigorate the EuroMed Partnership and to ensure the development of concrete projects aimed at tackling climate change, promoting energy and food security and education and training.
Our officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are in close contact with the French presidency regarding its broader agenda for north Africa. Key priorities for the EU during the French presidency include the negotiation of an EU-Libya framework agreement and the launching of negotiations on a statut avancé with Morocco. The UK maintains strong relations with all the countries of north Africa, working together on issues of migration, energy and food security and tackling the threats posed by terrorism.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Government of Qatar on the use of funds from Qatar by the Eritrean Government for non-violent purposes. 
Meg Munn: We regularly discuss developments in the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea, with the Government of Qatar at both official and ministerial level, including when my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani in March 2007.
Our officials and Ministers always make clear our support for peaceful solutions to the region's conflicts and encourage the Government of Qatar to use their influence with the Government of Eritrea to promote regional stability.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no plans to hold discussions in the immediate future with the Government of Qatar about their financial support to the Eritrean Government.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) his Saudi counterparts and (b) ministerial colleagues in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform on opportunities for trade between the UK and Saudi Arabia. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary holds regular discussions with the noble Lord Jones, Minister for Trade and Investment, on a variety of trade issues covering many countries, including Saudi Arabia.
The noble Lord Jones visited Saudi Arabia from 9-12 March 2008. He held talks with the Saudi Minister of Commerce, the Governor of Riyadh and members of the Saudi and British business communities.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent attacks on UN-AU peacekeepers in Darfur which resulted in the death of six peacekeepers. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 16 July 2008]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary issued a statement on 9 July in which he said "the attack on the UN-African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Darfur on 8 July was a horrific and cowardly act of violence. We reiterate the UN Security Council's demand for those responsible to be brought to justice. The work of the UN-AU peacekeepers in Darfur, operating in hugely challenging circumstances, deserves our utmost admiration and support. Yesterday's attack, and the continuing crisis in Darfur, further emphasises the urgent need for a full and rapid commitment by all sides to work with UN-AU mission in Darfur. I have emphasised in Khartoum today the pressing requirement for urgent humanitarian help and security cooperation as the basis for serious political dialogue".
The UN and the AU have begun a preliminary fact-finding investigation into the attack, which will be followed by an official investigation.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the International Criminal Court on the possible citation of President al-Bashir of Sudan; and what assessment has been made of the (a) diplomatic and (b) political implications of such a citation. 
Meg Munn: As a State Party to the International Criminal Court, the UK has regular contacts with the court at official level, including with the Prosecutor and his Office, over a range of matters, including the on-going investigation into the situation in Darfur referred to the Prosecutor by UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005). All contacts with the Prosecutor and his Office, and with others at the court, take place on the clear understanding of the court's, and the Prosecutor's, independent status and competence. It would be inappropriate and premature at this stage to comment or speculate on the outcome of the court's deliberations and the range of possible diplomatic and political implications.
We continue to urge all sides to show restraint, to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and to engage in the African Union/UN-led political process for Darfur.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Chinese government on reported human rights abuses against Tibetan people. 
Meg Munn: We continue to monitor the situation in Tibet and the surrounding region. We have expressed our concern regularly to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and London, and continue to urge them to respect fully the human rights of those detained; to avoid use of excessive force in dealing with unrest; and to respect freedom of expression and religion in Tibet.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has discussed Tibet several times with Foreign Minister Yang, most recently on 12 June when they met in Paris.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to establish the extent to which human rights abuses have occurred in the Tibetan province in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Meg Munn: We have regularly raised our concerns with the Chinese government about reported human rights abuses in Tibet following the recent unrest. I refer my hon. Friend to my response to written parliamentary question 218331 on 17 July, Official Report, columns 690-91W. We continue to monitor the situation closely.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Chinese authorities on the systematic removal by Chinese troops of symbols of religious importance and other valuable antiquities from monasteries in occupied Tibet. 
Meg Munn: We regularly urge the Chinese government to respect and protect Tibetan cultural values and religious beliefs and continue to raise the issue of Tibet with the Chinese government at the highest levels. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did this most recently when he met the Chinese Foreign Minister on 12 June. Our officials also discussed freedom of religion in detail during the last round of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue which took place in Beijing at the end of January.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Chinese authorities on the situation in occupied Tibet. 
Meg Munn: We continue to closely monitor the situation in Tibet and the surrounding region. We have expressed our concern regularly to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and London, and continue to urge them to respect fully the human rights of those detained; to avoid use of excessive force in dealing with unrest; and to respect freedom of expression and religion in Tibet. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has discussed Tibet several times with Foreign Minister Yang, most recently on 12 June.
We continue to emphasise that the current political difficulties in Tibet can best be resolved through dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives. We are pleased that the two sides have restarted the process of dialogue, meeting in Shenzhen in May and again in Beijing from 1-2 July. We hope that a further round will be convened again soon and that this will make substantive progress.
Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his US counterparts on the exercise of the principle of extraterritoriality of US jurisdiction and its effect on UK companies. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not raised the exercise of the principle of extraterritoriality of US jurisdiction with his US counterparts. However, Ministers and officials have been in regular contact with UK companies about applications of US extraterritoriality and officials raise issues with US interlocutors around the excessive extraterritorial reach of US jurisdiction, as appropriate.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the UN mission to the Western Sahara monitors the human rights situation; and what discussions he has had with MINURSO on this matter. 
Dr. Howells: The UK continues to support the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). MINURSO's mandate does not include human rights monitoring, and while I have not held recent talks with MINURSO, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in New York and Rabat are in regular contact with MINURSO representatives. Julian Harsten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the Western Sahara, and MINURSO colleagues met with our Ambassador in Rabat on 27 June to discuss the latest developments in the region.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in negotiations at the UN on the future of the Western Sahara; and what recent representations the UK has made on this matter. 
Dr. Howells: The UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy to the Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, chaired negotiations between the parties to the dispute in June and August 2007, and January and March 2008. Progress has been slow and in his report of 14 April, the UN Secretary-General called on the parties to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations. The UK supported the UN Security Council Resolution 1813 (30 April) in its call for the parties to co-operate fully with the UN and with each other to end the current impasse to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Moroccan Government on progress towards meeting its obligations to the people of the Western Sahara, with particular reference to mineral rights. 
Dr. Howells: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not discussed Western Sahara with his Moroccan counterpart. In my recent visit to Morocco in April, I echoed the words of the UN Secretary-General and called on all parties to engage in negotiations under the auspices of the UN in a spirit of compromise and realism. I also encouraged greater transparency in the field of human rights in Western Sahara in order to foster greater confidence between the parties. After a further round of negotiations held in March this year, UN Security Council Resolution 1813 was adopted on 30 April. It called on the parties to continue to show political will to enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations. The UK has welcomed these negotiations and has encouraged the parties to maintain their commitment to the process.
No representation has been made to Morocco regarding the use of mineral resources in Western Sahara. The UK's long standing position remains that Morocco, the de facto administering power of Western Sahara, is obliged under international law to ensure that economic activities under their administration do not adversely affect the interests of the people of Western Sahara, and this includes their de facto control over most of the territory and maritime resources of Western Sahara.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|