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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will conduct inquiries as to the whereabouts and well-being of (a) Mr. Uday Nasser Badr, (b) Mr. Yasser Hamad, (c) Mr. Quitaba Hamdari and (d) Mr. Firaz Imad, abducted by the Badr organisation during February 2004. 
Dr. Howells: As the hon. Member knows, these individuals were alleged to have been detained by members of the Badr Corps in Southern Iraq in February 2004. The United Nations Special Rapporteur asked the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to investigate. The CPA was dissolved on 30 June 2004, and despite a search of its records, the United States Government have not been able to trace receipt of this letter or any action taken as a result of it.
This alleged incident took place more than two years ago at a time when there were many incidents of illegal militia activity. It is therefore not possible at this stage to undertake an investigation into the whereabouts of these individuals other than through the Iraqi police. If the hon. Member believes that they are still in illegal captivity and can provide any information as to their whereabouts we will ask the Iraqi authorities to investigate.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of al-Qaeda activities in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: There are al-Qaeda members and sympathisers in Afghanistan. Their ability to mount attacks has been constrained by the activities of Afghan and international military forces, although we assess they remain active and continue to pose a threat within Afghanistan.
According to Article 23 of this Agreement the Sites shall be provided, and the rights of the Government of the United States of America under this Agreement shall be made available, free from all rent and charges to the Government of the United States of America".
Mr. Douglas Alexander: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, in another place on 6 March 2006 Official Report, columns 52729.
We welcome reports that the first round of voting in the elections in Benin, held on 5 March, was peaceful and strongly supported by the people of Benin. The Economic Community of West African States Observer Mission reported that the polls were free and
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fair. If a second round is confirmed as necessary, we urge the authorities, candidates and voters of Benin to ensure that it is held in a similar spirit.
Mr. Straw: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has closed six British embassies and four British high commissions since 1997. The British embassy at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire has remained temporarily closed since 1 April 2005. This is due to the uncertain security situation there. The following table gives details of the missions closed permanently and the missions now accredited with representing these closed missions.
|Cross accreditation to embassy/|
|British embassy closed|
|200304||Bamako, Mali||Dakar, Senegal|
|San Salvador, El Salvador||Guatemala City, Guatemala|
|Managua, Nicaragua||San Jose, Costa Rica|
|200506||Antananarivo, Madagascar||Port Louis(22), Mauritius|
|Asuncion, Paraguay||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire(22) (temporary closure)|
|High commissions closed|
|200506||Maseru, Lesotho||Pretoria(22), South Africa|
|Nassau, Bahamas||Kingston(22), Jamaica|
|Port Vila, Vanuatu||Suva(22), Fiji|
|Missions due for closure|
|British High Commission at Nuku' alofa, Tongaclosed to the public from 20 March 2006||Suva(22), Fiji|
|British Embassy at Dili, East Timorclosed to the public from 14 July 2006||Jakarta, Indonesia|
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who pays the cost of (a) building and (b) maintaining governors' official homes in British overseas territories. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: It is the responsibility of overseas territories Governments to provide and maintain accommodation for governors. However, depending on local circumstances, HM Government have paid for the building of some residencies and pays for some maintenance.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total cost was of maintaining governors in British overseas territories in (a) 1980 and (b) 2002. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The total operating costs to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of governors', and administrators', offices in the British overseas territories in 1980 is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The total cost for 200203 was £7,593,144. This includes salaries, allowances, travel, utilities and maintenance costs.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will ensure that representatives of British overseas territories based in London are afforded the same status and courtesies as high commissioners from Commonwealth countries. 
The Government cannot afford the same status to representatives of British overseas territories (BOT) as Commonwealth high commissioners. Diplomatic status is conferred on high commissioners of Commonwealth countries as representatives of sovereign states. BOTs are not sovereign states and their representatives are not, therefore, entitled to diplomatic status. As a courtesy, they are listed in the London Diplomatic List, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office
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(FCO) publication, and, where they meet certain criteria, BOTs receive partial rating relief on their offices and residences based in London. Representatives of BOTs are also often invited by the FCO to attend official events to which high commissioners and ambassadors are invited, and they have full access to FCO officials.
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