Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  Extraordinary meetings of the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) took place on 1 and 25 August in Brussels. The Foreign Secretary represented the UK on 1 August. I did so on 25 August.

  On 1 August the Council discussed the situation in the Middle East and adopted Conclusions: expressing utmost concern at the Lebanese and Israeli civilian casualties and human suffering, the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, and the increased number of internally displaced persons following the escalation of violence.

  The Conclusions called on all parties to do everything possible to protect civilian populations and to refrain from action in violation of international humanitarian law.

  The Council also called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to be followed by a sustainable cease-fire. In this context, the Council expressed full support for UN efforts to define a political framework for a lasting solution agreed by all parties, as a necessary precondition for deployment of an international force.

  The Council deplored the continuing violence in Gaza and the West Bank that has led to an equally distressing humanitarian situation and reiterated its call for the parties to return to the peace process on the basis of the Roadmap.

  On 25 August the Council discussed Lebanon, Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


  The Council discussed Lebanon in the presence of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with Partners offering up to 7,000 personnel and a range of air, sea and specialist assets to the deployment of UNIFIL +.

  The Council adopted Conclusions: expressing full support for the UN Secretary General's efforts in implementing Resolution 1701; welcoming Partners' willingness to contribute rapidly to the reinforcement of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon); while stressing UNIFIL's important role in assisting with the deployment of the Lebanese Army to Southern Lebanon.

  The Conclusions also reiterated the EU's determination to bring humanitarian relief to the people of Lebanon.


  The High Representative briefed the Council on Iran's response to the E3+3's offer. This was discussed further at the Informal Gymnich meeting of Foreign Ministers on 1-2 September in Lappenranta, Finland.


  The Council adopted Conclusions condemning the recent violence and calling on President Kabila and Vice-President Bemba to show restraint in the run-up to the second round of elections.

  The Conclusions also underlined the EU's commitment to ensuring the smooth conduct of the electoral process as shown by the role of the EUFOR RD Congo force, supporting MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) in restoring calm in Kinshasa.

4 September 2006

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