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We know that the Prime Minister is considering visiting the Middle East, preparatory to a possible visit by the US Secretary of State. Is there any view on when that visit might take place and what the objectives would be?

Naturally the whole House is concerned about the safety of British citizens, but who is co-ordinating the evacuation effort? How many British citizens are in Lebanon? How many have been evacuated? Is it 10,000 in, 63 out, as the Statement indicated? What is the current advice to British citizens and are they all able to access it? Does the noble Baroness have any concerns that our efforts to date have been less decisive than those of some other countries? How many people can be accommodated on Cyprus and what contingency plans are being put in place for a long stay?

We welcome the united stance of the G8 on restraining the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, but what in practice was decided in relation to North Korea? President Putin said that it was too early to speak of sanctions on Iran, but if Iranian intransigence continues, will the G8 states not have to return to the Security Council with a view to possible sanctions? He also laid great emphasis on energy policy, which is scarcely surprising. Was the UK one of the countries that, in the words of the communiqué, underlined the important contribution of nuclear power to global energy security? Does the noble Baroness share my disappointment at the relatively weak emphasis on reducing energy consumption when there was a great deal on advancing oil and gas sales? Can she confirm that all states subscribed to the declaration that producer countries, notably Russia, should be enabled to take over energy assets in consumer countries? Does that mean that the UK Government will positively welcome acquisitions by Gazprom and other Russian giants in the United Kingdom? Can she write to me if she does not have the answers now about what discussions there were, if any, about corporate governance issues?

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I know that the noble Baroness will share my disappointment that the crisis in the Middle East meant that there was less momentum behind the initiatives on Africa and fighting world poverty. The communiqué was a little thin on concrete action on that front—“modest” was the word that the normally effusive Prime Minister used. The noble Baroness will not be surprised if I ask her to tell the House what steps were agreed against the murderous Mugabe regime. I note that that was not mentioned as one of the key milestones for the International Development Secretary to report on.

A successful trade round will do more than anything else to alleviate poverty. Are the UK Government satisfied that all the G8 leaders are prepared to compromise to do a deal? Time is running out, but world attention is focused elsewhere. There was discussion on Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh. Does the noble Baroness agree that the only sensible outcome should be multiethnic? Did the UK Government raise the issue of Georgia and separatism in Abkhazia and Ossetia? How does the UK assess risks of linkage if western members of the G8 encourage independence for Kosovo?

This is a time of major tests for the G8. The urgent need is for peace in the Middle East and a common front to eradicate violence and terrorism, but the vital need for long-term progress is on trade and the eradication of disease. Does the G8 not also need to show renewed momentum and intensify efforts to achieve those worthy goals?

4.34 pm

Lord McNally: My Lords, for the man and woman in the street, I suppose there could be no greater contrast in watching their evening news than seeing the pomp and circumstance of a St Petersburg summit—a gathering of the most powerful nations on earth—and a fast cut to a disaster in the Middle East, of which those mighty powers seem totally impotent to influence the outcome. That is the worry: the juxtaposition between the activities of the big powers and the capacity of individuals and organisations to set in train destabilisation of a whole region. In the light of the experience in St Petersburg, has the quartet of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU any feelings of special responsibility and activity at present? If we have to understand why there should be no call for an immediate ceasefire, when should such a ceasefire take place?

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, spoke of the situation of UK nationals in the conflict zone. A large number of countries are taking action at present. On the tapes I saw about eight different evacuation plans under way. Is there any co-ordination to make those plans more effective?

Like the noble Lord, I should be interested in clarification of the reported interest of the Prime Minister in undertaking some kind of shuttle diplomacy in the region. I may return to that subject when concluding my remarks. I agree with the Prime Minister that the fundamental nature of the struggle in the region has to be understood. Do the Prime

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Minister and the Government accept that a settlement of the Palestine/Israel conflict is a precondition of winning the war on terrorism? If the conflict goes unresolved, it will remain the major recruiting sergeant for extremists seeking a holy war with the West.

Do the Government agree that a disproportionate use of force is counterproductive and has within it the seeds of a wider regional conflict with unforeseeable consequences? In that respect, have the Government made any further clarification of their policy on UK arms exports to the region?

On the other issues in the summit, progress was made, not least on trade. But there was a feeling that the crusading urgency that dominated Gleneagles a year ago as regards the war on poverty has been lost. As one aid organisation observed, after the G8 leaders promised to make poverty history last year, this summit has been a damp squib. Is there not a particular onus on the United States and the EU to stop blaming each other and to take action to follow up the Gleneagles promises to break the trade deadlock?

On energy, I find it most interesting that Russia, although no longer considered a military superpower, is undoubtedly an energy superpower. Do the Government have initiatives to involve Russia more fully in future discussions about energy needs?

There is a dilemma in respect of Iran. On the one hand, we want to talk to Iran about its nuclear ambitions. Yet it stands squarely in the dock as the major funder of terrorism. How shall we have a dialogue with such a country? Who will take the lead in trying to talk to Iran?

Whenever I am faced with these issues, I feel somewhat old-fashioned and dated. I belong to a generation that thought that we could settle disputes by the international rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Yet each day we see people who believe that being marginalised by those who think that those disputes can be settled by military action and by violence, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

That is why I return to the Prime Minister. It is important that we do not allow moderate views to be squeezed out by those, whether they be Islamic fundamentalists or American neocons, who think that they can set the world to their own particular idea of right. I believe that the Prime Minister has a much larger role than he seems to give himself. I do not want to see him as a Sherpa for American Presidents or Secretaries of State; I want to see him using his undoubted international stature to be active in bringing some sense and reason to this situation. He knows that, if he does, he will have support from across this House and the country.

4.41 pm

Baroness Amos: I shall try to respond to the points raised. If, however, I miss any out, I undertake to write to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, or to the noble Lord, Lord McNally.

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We are very concerned about the role of Syria and Iran. Through their support for Hezbollah, those countries are encouraging extremism, threatening the stability of the region and putting peace in the Middle East further out of reach. On what the UK Government can do particularly about Syria, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, might have missed the fact that we no longer have ministerial contact with the Syrian Government since the murder of Rafiq Hariri. However, we will continue to work with others who can put pressure on Iran and Syria and, through them, on Hezbollah.

The G8 statement makes it absolutely clear that there was support from all G8 countries for a stabilisation force. Clearly, there is an issue about the relationship between that force and the current UN force in Lebanon, which has a role in monitoring. At the Security Council on Thursday this week, all these issues will be discussed and looked at further. The important thing is that we want all sides to stop the fighting.

On the issue of our citizens, we, the United States, France and Canada probably have the largest numbers of nationals in Lebanon. We think we have about 10,000, plus as many more who are dual Lebanese citizens. The arrangements that we put in place in case every one of those individuals wants to leave have to be robust, safe and secure. That is being co-ordinated through my right honourable friend Adam Ingram. The MoD, the Foreign Office and all the relevant parts of government are working together on this. I can assure noble Lords that we are doing much of the international co-ordination and are working very closely with our EU colleagues.

Obviously, we have to work closely with the Government of Cyprus. They have worked closely with us on this. It happens to be the holiday period in Cyprus, so they are also dealing with a large number of holidaymakers. However, I must say to the House that they have dealt with this extremely impressively. Our plan is to charter aircraft from Cyprus to bring individuals back to the United Kingdom.

I can say more about the number of British naval ships that are close to Beirut. We will continue the evacuation in the coming days, but things are moving fast and I have no doubt that we will issue a Written Statement to the House if there are any more developments.

On energy security, the G8 made a number of things clear: the importance of the increased diversification of sources of energy; the fact that nuclear power has a role to play; the focus on renewables and alternative energy sources; and the importance of an inclusive dialogue post-2012 to include China and India. This builds very closely on the Gleneagles dialogue, and I have to tell the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that we were very pleased that what came out of this year’s G8 summit mirrored so much of what came out of our own energy review.

On the wider issues relating to Russia, which the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, mentioned, I understand that there were robust and frank discussions about G8 values, human rights issues, the need for G8 countries to be open to criticism and therefore the importance

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of having independent media and an independent judiciary. These were not reflected in the communiqué, but these discussions were held and included a discussion of the situation in Chechnya.

On Iran, to which the noble Lords, Lord McNally and Lord Strathclyde, referred, there is a plan for a UN Security Council resolution on Iran’s nuclear programme in the next 10 days or so. As to who will continue that dialogue with Iran, we would like the Iranians to respond to what we thought was a very generous package from the European Union. If it does not respond positively to that package, we will have to look at this issue again and think about how we continue the dialogue.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked about the quartet, which we see as the custodians of the road map. We want a ceasefire and an end to hostilities, but this needs to happen on all sides. I think that we would all agree that we cannot only look to Israel in that respect.

I assure the House that the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and others will continue to work extremely hard to bring about a resolution in the region. This issue has personally engaged the Prime Minister for many years. I remind the House that on 4 July he said to the Liaison Committee,

My right honourable friend has been dealing with these issues for many years, and he will continue to exert all the influence that he can to ensure that we make progress.

On trade and the deadlock, my right honourable friend chose his words very carefully when he talked about those at the summit who were prepared to go further in the trade negotiations and to deal with them flexibly. On the basis of that agreement, Pascal Lamy had a meeting last night with the G6 countries. I do not know what the conclusions of that meeting were, but next month will be critical. I totally agree with the noble Lord, Lord McNally. I, too, am old-fashioned and I cannot say how much it pains me that those who want to negotiate and who have moderate voices on these issues are being squeezed out by the terrorists. We must do all that we can to ensure that the conclusion of the crisis in the Middle East is one that we want and not one that we would all find it impossible to support.

4.50 pm

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the Statement and her answers, and welcome the impetus given to the trade talks in Geneva. Will the Minister give an assurance that the British Government and, through them, the EU will at the right moment encourage Pascal Lamy to come forward with his own set of tie-breaking proposals? That is only too likely to be the only way of ensuring that there is not yet another deadlock. Given that the

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Director-General of the WTO does not have the power of initiative in this, as I am sure the noble Baroness knows, he needs encouragement. I noticed that the list that she gave of those who have given encouragement so far did not include the head of state of Monsieur Lamy’s own country. No doubt that was not fortuitous.

My second question involves a matter not in the Statement but in the documents, for which I hope the noble Baroness will forgive me. I regard as a major step forward the effort that is now going on at the International Atomic Energy Agency to work up a scheme for guaranteed supply of enrichment and reprocessing services. We have gone from having a situation in which there were no proposals on the table to one in which there now appear to be three proposals, which is probably two too many. However, will the Government give a high priority to getting agreement at the IAEA on such a scheme, recognising that this is a crucial element—particularly in the light of the large amount of nuclear build that is likely to take place in the coming years—in ensuring that proliferation risks do not increase?

Baroness Amos: First, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, on the issue of encouraging Pascal Lamy, that my understanding is that he is already thinking about the possibility of coming forward with his own set of proposals, given the deadlock that there has been so far in the talks. As we are extremely keen to see these talks move forward, I am sure that we would encourage him to go in that direction should there be no other way of progressing.

On the second issue, I have to confess to the House that the IAEA is not a matter that I know a great deal about. My understanding is that we are very positive about the moves so far. I am absolutely sure that we would want to see one of these proposals agreed. In that sense, we would want to give high priority to it.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, we should not be surprised that terrorism is used in the Middle East. After all, Israel was established by terror, by the blowing up of Deir Yassin, by the hanging of British sergeants in an orange grove in Beersheba, and by the Stern gang riding through Jaffa saying to the Arabs, “You must all leave with the British”. Two million Arabs have been removed from Palestine. Not surprisingly, they are cross about it.

We must understand what drives people. I am not making a judgment; I am stating historical fact. Unfortunately, that injustice of 2 million Arabs being asked to leave has not been addressed for 60 years. Something has to be done about it. A much less intransigent territorial dispute, that between Germany and France over Alsace-Lorraine, took place between 1685, when the French nicked it, and 1945, when the Germans finally gave up wanting it back. That was a minor dispute compared with what is going on in the Middle East. We must be less sloppy about using the word “terrorism”. One man’s terrorism is another man’s freedom fight. If you see that terrorism has

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worked in the other guy’s hands, you are likely to use it yourself. I make no moral judgment, but draw the House’s attention to the historical facts.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I think we agree that there are different ways in which to read history. I know that from my own background and, indeed, from my presence in this House. The impact of colonialism and imperialism on countries in the Caribbean is viewed in very different ways in the country where I was born from how it is understood in the United Kingdom, so it is absolutely right that we appreciate how people understand their history. But our responsibility now as politicians is to seek a way through what is a highly complicated, emotive and deeply sensitive issue. That lies at the core of our responsibility. I make no judgment in terms of whether we should be surprised at what is happening in the Middle East, but we should seek to use the influence and power we have as a nation, working with those around us, to try to find a solution. That will not be easy, especially given the deep-rooted and deep-seated historical nature of this crisis.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, moving to the current terrible situation, the Leader of the House will know that for every day that there is not a ceasefire, scores more innocent civilians will be killed in Israel, in Lebanon and in Gaza. Can the noble Baroness tell us whether the United Kingdom Government are solidly behind the call for a ceasefire, and in particular what consideration has been given to the proposal made by the Prime Minister of Lebanon that Hezbollah should withdraw back to the Litani river, thus creating a situation of ceasefire because it could no longer reach key towns in Israel? Can she tell us whether that proposal, made by a Government very much under threat—but, as she observed, democratically elected—has been seriously considered at the G8 Summit?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, all the proposals which have been put forward over the past few days have been looked at either in formal or informal discussions in a number of ways. Of course we want a ceasefire; that is our top priority. But it has to involve the participation of all sides in the conflict. Therein lies a major problem because those countries which have an influence on Hezbollah are fuelling the conflict. At this point they are not remotely interested in moving forward in a negotiated way.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for repeating the Statement. With my hat on as the chair of Christian Aid, can I encourage the Government in the G8 process with the aid/trade/debt cycle that was begun last year and on which there is a still a long journey to travel? In the midst of all the other issues that are lurking, I hope that we shall not lose energy around that.

I hope that the noble Baroness will allow me to comment on the wider issues at stake here. Again without making any judgments because we all understand the huge political complexity surrounding these things, does she accept that there is potentially a lethal cocktail

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at work in all this, one made up, first, with the despair of millions of people who have been displaced in the Middle East? I have met some who are still carrying in their pockets the keys to their houses from nearly60 years ago. Secondly, the reality is that we are dealing with predominantly young societies with the future in front of them, so despair is a very lethal force in the Middle East. Thirdly—and the noble Baroness might like to comment on this with regard to the G8 summit—there is an impression that the leaders in the G8 are not entirely in agreement among themselves about what to do. That leads to a sense of impotence. When you have despair and impotence at work, is that not the sort of lethal cocktail which drives people into the hands of those who present other sorts of solutions, ones sadly involving violence and damage to innocent people?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, with respect to the issues of aid, trade and debt, which I forgot to mention in my opening response, I can tell the right reverend Prelate that we are not losing energy on those issues. We always knew that this was a year of consolidation and implementation. Many of the commitments made at the G8 last year run to 2010 or 2015. Therefore, it is important for us to have a clear plan in terms of how we will deliver on those commitments.

I have to tell the House that since last year 21 countries have already qualified for 100 per cent debt relief. We hope to add to that list another five African countries. We have seen the education fast-track initiative take off and we want to develop long-term educational development plans for 10 countries. In addition, of course, there is the commitment to ensure that further funding is found for the Global Fund on HIV and AIDS.

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