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Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his policy in respect of the proposal to change the current arrangements for meetings of European Councils in the member states holding the presidency; and if it is current practice for such member states to choose the location of each meeting and be responsible for its organisation. 
The Government support the move from 2002 to holding one European Council meeting per Presidency in Brussels, and from an EU of 18 to holding all formal meetings of the European Council in Brussels. This will help contribute to more efficient and cost-effective meetings.
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Government policy in respect of the change in title of the Official Journal of the European Community to that of the Official Journal of the European Union. 
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Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to reduce the length of time that spouses of UK citizens are having to wait for entry clearance interviews in Islamabad; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Vaz [holding answer 11 January 2001]: The waiting time for spouse visa applications in Islamabad stood at 17 weeks at 31 December 2000. This compares with a waiting time of 39 weeks at 31 December 1999. This waiting period exceeds the target time by five weeks, but is expected to be within it by the end of March. The waiting times for all other categories of settlement applications have, during 2000, been brought within the target times. These are significant reductions which have been achieved in a year during which the overall number of applications in Islamabad has grown by 28 per cent.
Staff in Post continue to do all they can to reduce further all waiting times. The Post is currently fully staffed; new procedures have been introduced to enable more decisions to be made more quickly on all settlement applications; a new standard visa software package is being installed; and the new reception arrangements introduced in June 2000 are to be further extended so that the increasing number of new applications can be dealt with on the day of application.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Turkish Government about the arrest in Cyprus of Mr. Panicos Tsiakourmas; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Vaz: The UK Government regard the detention of Panicos Tsiakourmas as a very serious matter. Our High Commissioner has made strong representations to Mr. Dentkash about the circumstances of Mr. Tsiakourmas' arrest. We have also raised our concerns with the Turkish Authorities in Nicosia, Ankara and London. I met Mrs. Tsiakourmas and my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) on 9 January 2001. We will continue to raise the issue until it is resolved satisfactorily.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the British High Commissioner in Cyprus about the detention of Mr. Panicos Tsiakourmas in northern Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Vaz: Our High Commissioner in Nicosia has provided the Foreign Secretary and me with regular reports on the detention of Mr. Tsiakourmas. Our officials are in daily telephone contact with him and I met Mrs. Tsiakourmas on 9 January. The Government regard the detention of Mr. Tsiakourmas as a very serious matter. Our High Commissioner has made strong representations to Mr. Denktash about the circumstances of Mr. Tsiakourmas' arrest. We have also raised our concerns with the Turkish authorities in Nicosia, Athens and London. We will continue to raise the issue until it is resolved satisfactorily.
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Mr. Hain: Presidential and parliamentary elections took place in Ghana on 7 December. Opposition leader John Kufuor, New Patriotic Front Party (NPP), polled the most votes (48.44 per cent.) but failed to secure the necessary 50 per cent. vote to win the first round. Vice President John Mills of the ruling National Democratic Congress took 44.8 per cent. In parallel parliamentary elections, the NPP achieved a majority taking 97 seats against the NDC's 90 out of a total of 200. Election day was generally peaceful with a few reports of violence and little sign of electoral malpractice. Overall turnout was estimated at 60-65 per cent.
The second round run-off between Kufuor and Mills took place on 28 December. Kufuor won taking 57 per cent. of the votes cast. The atmosphere in the second round was tense. Although violent incidents occurred in some NPP dominated areas, the security forces largely behaved in a non-partisan way. The electoral process was again considered to have been free fair and transparent and to have reflected the will of the Ghanaian people.
Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with American officials on British facilities for National Missile Defence by the United States. 
The current US Administration has not sought our agreement to the use of facilities in this country for National Missile Defence. Nor would we expect any such request from the United States until and unless the next Administration decided to proceed with the deployment of such a system.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on discussions held in December 2000 on disposition options for surplus Russian military plutonium; and what role is being played by the G8 in developing a financial strategy to support such assistance to Russia. 
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The PDPG has been tasked by the G8 with developing an international financial plan for plutonium management and disposition, based on a detailed project plan, and a multilateral framework to co-ordinate this co-operation.
It held its first meeting in December and will be meeting monthly to examine available project options, together with financing plans for them, and develop a programme which can be presented to Ministers before the Genoa Summit in July.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on matters discussed and decisions taken at the EU Political and Security Council Meeting held on 9 and 10 January. 
Mr. Hain: None. Although the Foreign and Commonwealth Office remains responsible for policy on the implementation of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their destruction, responsibility for individual land mine clearance programmes rests with the Department for International Development.
Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the results were of the consultation on the draft International Criminal Court Bill published on 25 August 2000. 
Mr. Hain: I have placed in the Library a report on the consultation which summarises the main points raised on the draft International Criminal Court Bill and how the Government are responding to them. The Government are most grateful to those hon. Members and others who gave comments. Valuable suggestions were received and many changes have been made to the Bill as a result.
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what discussions he has had with the Dutch Foreign Minister on the future of facilities at Zeist for an International Criminal Court. 
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