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Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I echo the appreciation already expressed to the noble Baroness not only for repeating the Statement, but for the very real work in progress—as she put it—that the Statement reflects, especially as regards Iran, Iraq and Arab-Israel. I have two questions, which I shall ask in reverse order, starting with Arab-Israel.

I hope that the Minister will repeat what I think she has said before—that the aim of the road map is first and foremost the security of Israel, but secondly and most importantly the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state. The Minister referred to new impetus being put into the road map and that is very welcome, although I am not sure that that is entirely consistent with statements from Washington which suggest that a four-year programme is being considered. However, is there any prospect of the United States appointing a special envoy, which many of us believe would be an important step if we are really to have new impetus put into the peace process?

Turning to Iran, the Statement referred to increased trade co-operation. Do the British Government still regard extra-territorial ILSA legislation from Congress as applying to British companies? If so, is that likely to be a constraint on increased trade co-operation and investment?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, for his remarks. However, the aim of the road map is not first the security of Israel. It is to have two states living side by side—Israel living in peace and security with its neighbours and a contiguous viable state of Palestine. It is important to keep those aims on twin tracks and not say that one is more important than the other, because quite frankly, to do so would automatically lose us the concentration.

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I thank the Minister for ticking me off in what is a rather unusual reverse order from my more normal speeches.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I would not dream of ticking off the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond. I cannot see myself being quite that bold. However, I wanted to get the Government's position clear.

On the question of the four-year programme, the four years was mentioned when the President of the United States said that over the next four years—
 
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which I took to mean his presidential period—he wanted to spend the political capital of the United States on establishing a state of Israel. That is not so much thinking in terms of a four-year plan as him saying that it was also one of his priorities, in the way that the Prime Minister said that it was his priority over the next period.

I understand that the United States of America is as yet undecided about a special envoy. The incoming Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, may well decide that she wants to take that role on her own shoulders rather than appointing an envoy so to do. However, I am sure that we will learn more about that.

On the question of Iran and trade co-operation, as noble Lords will know, we have always regarded extra-territorial legislation with enormous distaste in this country. Governments of both political persuasions in the recent past in the UK have done so. We are now in a position to resume negotiations on a commercial co-operation agreement with the Iranians, which I understand from my period as a trade Minister is something that UK companies and the Iranians very much want to see.

Lord Truscott: My Lords, while awaiting the judgments of the Ukrainian Supreme Court on allegations of widespread electoral abuse, will my noble friend and Her Majesty's Government back the statement of the EU Presidency calling for a fresh ballot in Ukraine? Furthermore, will the Government also call upon the Russian Federation to dissociate itself from some of those in the south and east of Ukraine who are calling for some form of unilateral declaration of independence and detachment from the rest of Ukraine?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I will be a little guarded in my response to the noble Lord, Lord Truscott. The Statement makes it very clear that we do not think that the outcome of the elections can be regarded as free or fair. It is now right and proper that we wait to see what the Ukrainian courts themselves say about this matter. My noble friend is absolutely right. Not only did our colleagues in the OSCE—including my right honourable friend Mr Bruce George, who was a part of the parliamentary committee—say that the election did not meet its standards, but also the observers from NATO, who said that there was a serious level of ballot abuse in the Ukraine. The sensible thing for us to do is to wait to see what the Supreme Courts say. However, our overall view on this point is implicit in what my right honourable friend said.

Lord Biffen: My Lords, I am sure that "wait and see" are wise words from the Minister. However, I have a question that she may feel disinclined to answer because of the sensitivity of the situation. If the Ukrainian courts' decisions result in there being a second election, does she expect that the OSCE will still be available to monitor that election? If so, what other arrangements does she think might be suitable to keep onside as far as possible with Russia?
 
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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I very much hope that, if there is to be another ballot, the OSCE would still monitor any fresh elections. But I hope, too, that we will be able to have a dialogue with our friends in Moscow about the way in which the issue is developing. It is essential that we recognise that a fragile position has emerged in Ukraine. As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said, many people are urging a peaceful and measured approach to the matter, and say that we should wait for what the courts decide, while acknowledging that the position is entirely unsatisfactory for the people of Ukraine. The outcome—of who becomes the next president—must reflect the will of the people of Ukraine.

Lord Garden: My Lords, with just two months to go to the elections in Iraq, did discussions take place last week or at another time about the provision of UN and other international monitors and observers for those elections, and security for those people?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, all those matters are under discussion. There have been discussions within the UN; discussions have taken place about how the elections can be observed for fairness and how security can be provided. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister, when answering questions from the press this morning, made it clear that there are preferences for an increased number of Iraqis to provide their own security for the elections, which would provide a greater degree of confidence for Iraq that the elections were for Iraqis and administered by Iraqis. That is where we would like to see a great deal of emphasis placed; indeed, much of the effort of the international community has gone into training Iraqi forces for that purpose. I hope that it goes without saying—one always has to say these things but I believe that all your Lordships would agree—that a degree of international monitoring would be very much welcomed.

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that many of us share the warm welcome given to the progress in Iran? It is remarkable in many respects, as the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, has said, that our Foreign Secretary, along with Mr de Villepin and Joschka Fischer, had a large part to play in brokering the foundations of the agreement. Although that sort of triangular relationship is not the only ball game in town, it is an important one for the future, and has also helped to underpin the credibility of the IAEA.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I agree with that. Of course, the initiative was begun under the Foreign Minister, Mr de Villepin, of France. Now, of course, Mr Barnier has taken over that role. He and my right honourable friend, together with Joschka Fischer, have done an excellent job for the international community. It has not been easy; it has been a day-by-day issue for us about trying to build confidence with a country that has had difficult international relationships, as we know.
 
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We have maintained a good diplomatic relationship with Iran, which is, if your Lordships like, in contrast with that of United States of America, as the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, implied earlier. We have worked steadily at this issue, but the real test will not be in the signing of agreements or agreements made at the IAEA today. It will be in the implementation. That is what I said at the beginning of my answers to these questions; this is all very much a work in progress.

Address in Reply to Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech

Debate resumed.


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