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Kosovo: Recognition of States

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many countries have recognised the Republic of Kosovo; and what steps he is taking to assist the Government of Kosovo to increase the number. [219650]

Mr. Jim Murphy: At the time of writing 43 countries have recognised the Republic of Kosovo, including 20 in the EU and seven of the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations (G8). The UK is taking opportunities as they arise in bilateral discussions and multilateral forums, working closely with like-minded international partners and alongside the Government of Kosovo, to encourage further recognition.

Languages

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what budget allocation his Department has made for language training for its staff in 2008-09. [215288]

David Miliband: The budget allocation for language training for staff in 2008-09 is £4,030,000.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 18 June 2008, Official Report, columns 924-5W, on languages, how many of those employed by his Department, other than those engaged locally, have (a) received training and (b) held a qualification in Dari or Pashto; and if he will make a statement. [215292]

David Miliband: Since April 2005, 34 members of staff of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have received language training in Dari or Pashto. As at July 2008, seven FCO staff were receiving language training in Dari or Pashto. This covers all job slots currently identified as requiring the need to speak Dari or Pashto. All other staff use locally engaged translators when required.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 June 2008, Official Report, columns 924-5W, on languages, how many of those employed by his Department, other than those engaged locally, are receiving language training in (a) Arabic, (b) Farsi, (c) Dari or Pashto, (d) Mandarin, (e) Swahili and (f) Japanese. [215293]

David Miliband: The following table shows the total number of Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff receiving language training in June 2008 in the specified languages:

Language Number of staff receiving language training

Arabic

31

Farsi

8

Dari or Pashto

7

Mandarin

16

Swahili

2

Japanese

10


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Middle East: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps the Government have taken to assist the peace process between Israel and Palestine; and what recent discussions he has had with the Israeli and Palestinian Governments on the matter. [220628]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 21 July 2008]: The UK provides strong political support to the peace process urging both sides to negotiate towards a two-state solution and to put a stop to their actions which undermine it. In particular, we urge the parties to address the restrictions that Israel imposes on the movement and access of Palestinians and the ongoing violent attacks perpetrated by Palestinian militants against Israel.

My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have visited the region recently and we are in frequent contact with both authorities in order to do what we can to encourage a robust peace resolution.

We also provide assistance to the Palestinian Authority to develop their governance structures, economy and security efforts. A viable economy and a reliable security force are the integral foundations of any future Palestinian state.

Nigeria: Armed Conflict

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made proposals for the instigation of peace talks in the Niger Delta in Nigeria; and what representations he has received from human rights organisations on this matter. [221456]

Meg Munn: The Government stand ready to support the Government of Nigeria in their peace initiatives for the Niger Delta region. In a meeting with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 16 July, President Yar’Adua confirmed his commitment to a peace process that will address the need for reconciliation between all parties and deliver improved development across the region. Addressing the underlying causes of the crisis in the Niger Delta, namely poor governance, instability and underdevelopment, will be vital to the success of the peace process. The UK encourages the Nigerian Government to address the situation in the Niger Delta as a priority and urges all parties to engage in peaceful dialogue towards the resolution of the crisis.

Officials from our high commission in Abuja regularly talk to Nigerian and international human rights organisations on a range of topics including the Niger Delta. The UK keeps a close watch on human rights abuses in Nigeria and regularly raises specific issues with the Nigerian Government.

Nigeria: Oil

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the effects of militant attacks in Nigeria on overall Nigerian oil output; and if he will make a statement. [220772]


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Meg Munn: Following discussions with Nigerian authorities and oil companies, officials from our high commission in Abuja estimate that Nigerian short-term production capacity stands at 2.6 million barrels per day, with the potential to rise to 4 million barrels per day. However, production has recently dropped to approximately 1.5 million barrels per day. Not all of this shortfall can be attributed to security concerns. A proportion is due to under-investment by the Federal government in existing oil exploration and production projects. This shortfall in production has consequences for the international oil markets and for the Nigerian and global economies, particularly in the context of high oil prices.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met President Yar’Adua on 16 July in Downing street. In a joint-statement, he expressed his support of the Nigerian Government in their peace initiatives. He committed to working with the Government of Nigeria to identify training and advisory support which would help to improve the Nigerian capability to provide security in the Niger Delta and to support longer-term development measures.

Occupied Territories: Housing

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs following the EU’s calls to freeze all settlement activity and dismantle outposts erected since March 2001, how many such outposts have been dismantled; what deadline was given to Israel for compliance; and what steps will be taken in circumstances of continued settlement growth. [220241]

Dr. Howells: The deadline, as set out in phase 1 of the Roadmap, to freeze all settlement activity was May 2003. We do not hold figures on the number of outposts that have been dismantled. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza involved the removal of the Israeli settlements and outposts there, but settlements continue to expand in the West Bank. We have repeatedly called on all parties to meet their Roadmap obligations and support the Annapolis negotiations as the best opportunity to move towards a two-state solution.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of homes which have been built in settlements since the EU's initial call for a halt to Israeli settlement growth. [220243]

Dr. Howells: We do not keep a breakdown of the number of housing units which are built in settlements.

However, we are very concerned that there have been a number of new housing tenders issued for illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the Annapolis Conference in November 2007. We continue to make clear to the Israeli Government that we view all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as illegal under international law. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister reiterated our policy on settlements when he addressed the Israeli Knesset on 21 July.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what public statements he has made on Israeli settlement expansion since the
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Annapolis peace conference; and which of these related to settlement growth on the Golan Heights. [221700]

Dr. Howells: The UK continues to make clear that all Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal under international law. On 24 June 2008, Official Report, column 140, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary told the House that

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spelt this out very clearly during his visit to the region and made clear, including in a speech to the Israeli Knesset on 21 July, that we want to see an immediate freeze of settlement activity and indeed withdrawal from them.

The Government support the resolution of the Golan Heights issue in the context of a peace deal between Syria and Israel. In this context, we are encouraged by reports of indirect talks between Syria and Israel. Syria still has more to do, however, to support the peace process, including ceasing its support for Palestinian terrorist groups.

Pakistan: Christianity

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Pakistan on reports of the abduction of Christian women and their forced conversions to Islam. [221457]

Dr. Howells: The UK supports freedom of religion and condemns instances where individuals are persecuted or exploited because of their faith. With our EU partners, we raised our concerns over the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan in July.

Rendition

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the statement of 21 February 2008, Official Report, columns 547-48, on terrorist suspects (renditions), what status the two planes carrying the detainees had when they refuelled at the US facility in Diego Garcia. [215869]

David Miliband: As indicated in my written ministerial statement to the House on 3 July 2008, Official Report, columns 58-59WS, the US considers these to be intelligence flights.

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the statement of 21 February 2008, Official Report, columns 547-48, on terrorist suspects (renditions), what the (a) name, (b) nationality and (c) current status of each of the two detainees is. [215870]

David Miliband: As I set out in my statement to the House on 21 February 2008, Official Report, columns 547-48, the US Government have told us that neither of the individuals was a British national or a British resident. They have informed us that one of the individuals is currently detained in Guantanamo Bay and that the other has been released.


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Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the statement of 21 February 2008, Official Report, columns 547-48, on terrorist suspects (renditions), whether there is an official log of the landing times and take-off times of the two planes carrying detainees. [215871]

David Miliband: Records on flight departures and arrivals on Diego Garcia are generally held for a period of between three and five years by the Island authorities for administration purposes. There are no flight records still held by the Island authorities that cover the period when the two cases of rendition occurred.

Saudi Arabia: Prisoners

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Government of Saudi Arabia on the case of Muhammad Geloo, detained without charge in Saudi Arabia; what progress has been made in securing Mr. Geloo’s release; what contacts British consular officials have had with Mr. Geloo during his detention; what reports on the case he has received from HM Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; what steps he has taken in response to reports that Mr. Geloo has been tortured during his detention; when he expects Mr. Geloo’s case to be heard before a court; and if he will visit Saudi Arabia to discuss Mr. Geloo’s case with the Saudi Government. [220877]

Dr. Howells: We have made regular representations to the Government of Saudi Arabia, including by our ambassador in Riyadh, regarding the fact that Mr. Geloo has been held without charge. We will continue to do so. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this case during his trip to Saudi Arabia on 22 April. The Saudi authorities have told us that they intend to charge Mr. Geloo and that they are operating within Saudi law. We do not know when Mr. Geloo’s case is expected to be heard before a court.

We are in regular contact with Mr. Geloo and his family and are providing them with appropriate consular assistance.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s role in cases of British nationals detained overseas is one of welfare. We cannot comment on the veracity of any charges brought against British nationals overseas and we are unable to interfere in the judicial processes of another country. Our own processes are similarly protected. We take allegations about torture very seriously. With the individual’s permission, we can take up any justified complaint about ill treatment, personal safety or discrimination with the authorities in question.

Somalia: Armed Conflict

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings his Department has held with Somali officials on the recent military attacks on the parliament town of Baidoa; and if he will make a statement. [220778]

Meg Munn: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not had contact with Somali officials specifically about the attacks on Baidoa.


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The FCO is fully engaged with the Somali Transitional Federal Government on matters of political progress and welcomes the agreement reached in Djibouti on 9 June, between the Transitional Federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia. The UK will make all efforts to support the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General towards ensuring that the Djibouti Agreement is implemented. This stands the greatest chance of resulting in long-term security and stability and improving the lives of ordinary Somalis.

Somalia: Conflict Prevention

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what conflict resolution projects the UK is supporting in Somalia under the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool. [216301]

David Miliband: The Africa Programme of the Conflict Prevention Pool (CPP) has allocated £2 million to support conflict prevention and peace-building activities in Somalia in the current financial year 2008-09. This includes direct support to civil society organisations engaged in conflict resolution and peace-building and strengthening the political process facilitated by the UN. CPP funding has also been allocated to support a joint donor approach to building and reforming Somali security capacity.

South Africa: Chemical and Biological Warfare

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 May 2008, Official Report, column 1403W, on South Africa: chemical and biological welfare, for what reasons he is unable to confirm or deny details of evidence considered during his Department’s investigations into South Africa’s Project Coast; and if he will place in the Library the evidence considered in the course of the UK investigations. [220847]

Meg Munn: UK investigations carried out following allegations of assistance to South Africa’s Project Coast were thorough and drew on a variety of sources, including evidence given to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The sensitivity of some of these sources precludes the provision of further details.


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