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Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how often the Friends of Pakistan group of which the UK is a member meets; what its objectives are; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The Friends of Democratic Pakistan initiative brings together countries and multilateral organisations which are committed to Pakistan's long-term development in an effort to help the new government to tackle Pakistan's serious development, security and economic problems.
The inaugural Friends meeting agreed to work in strategic partnership with the government of Pakistan to promote: Pakistan's stability, social and economic development; a comprehensive solution to the tribal belt; better energy provision; democracy; economic reform; rule of law; good governance; and counter-extremism. The group also agreed to appoint a special representative.
To date, there has been one meeting. But there are plans to hold a second meeting in Abu Dhabi in November.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies (i) are classified as Government communicators and (ii) have access to the Government Communication Network. 
Gillian Merron: It is only possible to make a rough estimate of the number of people working in communications across the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) global network because Heads of Mission, diplomats and many of our local staff are professional communicators.
These numbers are in addition to some 100 staff employed directly in London on communications-related activities. The responsibilities of the London team include: press office, all web-related work, internal communications, stakeholder relations, events, publications and public diplomacy (including managing the FCO relationship with the British Council, BBC World Service, Wilton Park, British Satellite News and the FCO's scholarship programmes).
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the government of (a) Kenya, (b) Sudan and (c) Somalia on the destination of the cargo aboard the Ukrainian freighter Faina which was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden in September 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have discussed the hijack of the Ukrainian freighter Faina and the destination of its cargo with members of the government of Kenya and of the government of southern Sudan. Officials from both governments have stated publicly that the cargo is for the government of Kenya.
We are concerned over the increase in acts of piracy and the opportunities this gives to armed groups in Somalia to finance and arm themselves. I look forward to a peaceful end to the hijack, and am looking at scope for further co-operation with the government of Kenya on bringing pirates to justice.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the mandate will be for the EU counter-piracy naval operation in the Gulf of Aden; and if he will make a statement. 
The test of the joint action is currently being agreed, but we expect the EU operation to launch
in early December. The aim of the operation is to implement UN Security Council Resolutions 1814, 1816 and 1838 by improving the maritime security situation in the region within the wider efforts of the EU to promote stability in Somalia. The objectives are twofoldthe protection of World Food programme shipping, a vital element of the humanitarian objective of UNSCR 1814, and the protection of vulnerable shipping in area by deterring and disrupting piratical activity in the Gulf of Aden.
The legal basis for the EU led mission will be a joint action adopted under Articles 14, 25 (third subparagraph) and 28 (paragraph 3) of the treaty on European Union, to give effect to resolutions 1814/2008, 1816/2008 and 1838/2008 of the UN Security Council.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the capacity of the government of Yemen to assist with or otherwise facilitate international counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: The Government of Yemen, despite enthusiasm among the Yemeni coastguard, currently has little capacity to assist with international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. However, they have made progress in providing security in the Bab-el Mandeb Strait, which is key to the safe passage of the UK's energy resources from the middle east.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which EU member states have committed to providing naval vessels and personnel for the EU counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden; and if he will make a statement. 
There have been informal offers from several EU member states contributing naval resources and personnel, although details will not be confirmed until the first formal force generation conference scheduled for 17-18 November 2008.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government is taking steps to promote tourism between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the United Kingdom. 
Bill Rammell: The non-departmental Government body, Visit Britain, works closely with UK Trade and Investment, the British Council and the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong to promote tourism between Hong Kong and the UK. They are running two campaigns in Hong Kong, Classic Britain and Dynamic Britain, which highlight tourism opportunities around British lifestyle elements such as shopping, eating-out, the countryside, sports, cultural events and performances. There is a high level of awareness about Britain in Hong Kong; 80 per cent. of Hong Kong visitors are repeat visitors.
Bill Rammell: There are currently just under 900 British nationals registered with us as living in Hong Kong, although it is not compulsory for British nationals living overseas to register with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We estimate that approximately 250,000 British citizens live in Hong Kong, of whom 25,000 to 30,000 are expatriates. There are approximately 3.7 million British Nationals (Overseas) living in Hong Kong.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome was of the election of five judges to the International Criminal Court by the UN General Assembly on 6 November 2008; what steps the Government took in (a) proposing and (b) supporting candidates for election to the Court; and if he will make a statement. 
On 6 November, Professor Christopher Greenwood was elected to the ICJ by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. French, Jordanian, Brazilian and Somali candidates were also elected.
Professor Greenwood was nominated to stand for election by the UK National Group in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, acting independently of government, and by 19 other National Groups, in accordance with article 4 of the courts statute.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the (a) allowance and (b) bonus entitlements of UK civil servants working in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan are. 
Gillian Merron: The average level of allowances over twelve months for a member of staff working in Iraq is £79,514. The equivalent figure for Afghanistan is £61,713. These figures are an average of allowances currently received by all staff at those posts. Allowances include a hazard conditions allowance, diplomatic service compensation allowance, a transfer grant, an overseas location allowance plus allowances for a travel package, heavy baggage, unaccompanied air freight and cost of living.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the guidelines on the procedures to follow in the case of a formal complaint by a member of the locally-engaged staff at the British Embassy in Baghdad. 
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many official complaints have been submitted to London headquarters by (a) departmental and (b) locally-engaged staff working in the British Embassy in Baghdad since 1 January 2004. 
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the draft of the Iraq dossier by Mr. John Williams dated 9 September 2002, whether (a) Mr. Williams and (b) any other communications official contributed further drafting material. 
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what the Governments policy is on the labelling of produce from Israel and the Palestinian territories; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what discussions he has had with his EU counterparts on the labelling of food and food products originating in (a) Israel, (b) Israeli settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, (c) Israeli-controlled territory on the West Bank and (d) areas of the West Bank under the control of the Palestinian authority in the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: Produce should be labelled clearly; consumers have the right to know what they are buying. Labelling goods as Produce of the West Bank means that consumers do not know whether they are buying goods from a Palestinian producer or from an illegal Israeli settlement. The Government support consumers right to be able to make that choice.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the labelling of produce from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Israeli Foreign Minister Livni during his recent visit to Israel.
The UK recently circulated a non-paper on illegal Israeli settlement produce to the EU as part of our contribution of proposals to forward the peace process. The UK is working with EU colleagues to find a way to give retailers and manufacturers clearer guidance on labelling best practice, against the background of our European Commission and World Trade Organisation obligations. The aim is to enable consumers to see whether a product is from an illegal Israeli settlement.
Caroline Flint: The normal criteria that we apply for recognition as a state remain as described in the written answer dated 16 November 1989, Official Report, column 494 by then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Sainsbury. In reaching our decision to recognise, which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced to the House in his statement of 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 21WS, we considered that Kosovo satisfied these criteria.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) discussions he has held and (b) correspondence he has received relating to the failure of the Kyrgyzstan Ambassador to the UK to secure visas for musicians and performers from Kyrgyzstan to visit the UK at the Ambassador's invitation; and if he will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: We regret that the musicians and performers in question were unable to receive visas in time to attend the event organized by the Kyrgyz ambassador in London. Our Charge d'Affaires in Astana has written to the ambassador apologising for the inconvenience caused and explaining that two separate and critical IT failures were responsible for frustrating the best efforts of the entry clearance team in Almaty to issue visas in time. We remain committed to encouraging closer cultural and other links between our two countries, as underlined by the visit to the Kyrgyz Republic last month by HRH The Duke of York.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of each of the five bilateral agreements signed with Libya on 17 November 2008. 
David Miliband: The agreements with Libya on mutual legal assistance, extradition, prisoner transfer and judicial co-operation in civil and commercial matters were signed on 17 November. In accordance with the requirements of the Ponsonby Rule, they will shortly be published as Command Papers and laid before Parliament with an Explanatory Memorandum in the usual way. The agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion, which was also signed on 17 November, is not subject to the Ponsonby Rule since such agreements are appended to the Order in Council which implements the agreement in UK domestic law. Her Majestys Revenue and Customs have arranged for a copy to be placed in the Library.
Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the involvement of the Arab League in the Middle East peace process; and if he will make a statement. [R] 
Bill Rammell: The Government support a comprehensive approach to the Middle East Peace Process, building on the Annapolis conference, the Quartet process, and the Arab Peace Initiative, and leading to a final settlement with two states living side by side in peace and security. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had positive discussions on this subject with Israeli, Palestinian and other interlocutors, including with the Secretary-General of the Arab League on 3 November. We welcome the constructive role that the Arab League has played and is continuing to play in the Middle East Peace Process.
Bill Rammell: During his recent visit to the middle east, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary held discussions with key Israeli and Palestinian officials on advancing the peace process. Discussion centred around the need for a comprehensive approach to the middle east peace process, and the need to build support for peace by addressing the humanitarian situation in Gaza and illegal Israeli settlement activity.
The UK continues to discuss the prospects for peace with other governments through various forums, including: monthly United Nations Security Council meetings on the situation in the middle east; with our EU partners at meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, the European Council and the Political Security Committee; and through officials based in our overseas posts.
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