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Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what dates the (a) President and (b) Prime Minister of (i) Latvia, (ii) Estonia and (iii) Lithuania visited the UK in the last five years; what future visits are planned; and if he will make a statement. 
Peter Hain: Former President Meri of Estonia visited the UK in February 1998 and again in March 2000. President Vike-Freiberga of Latvia visited the UK in October 2000. There have been no prime ministerial visits from the countries concerned in the last five years.
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Mr. Bradshaw: We have frequent discussions with the USA about Sudan. We welcome the appointment of Senator John Danforth as US Special Envoy to Sudan, and we look forward to working closely with him in the pursuit of peace.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has collated on how many Sudanese are refugees in neighbouring countries; and how many are refugees in camps in those countries. 
Mr. Bradshaw: According to the US Committee for Refugees, there were approximately 465,000 Sudanese refugees or asylum seekers at the end of 2000. Approximately 200,000 Sudanese refugees were recorded in Uganda, 70,000 in Ethiopia, 70,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 55,000 in Kenya, 35,000 in Central African Republic, 20,000 in Chad, and some 12,000 in Egypt.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Sudanese Government on the cases of the human rights activists Ghazi Suleiman and Ali Mahmoud currently detained by that Government. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish evidence he has received that links the Sudanese Government to the East African embassy bombings. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Many British and other NGOs are performing outstanding humanitarian work in Sudan with strong political and financial support from HMG. We work closely with Operation Lifeline Sudan, North and South, and with the UN, ICRC and NGOs over access for humanitarian operations in Sudan. We regularly urge the Government of Sudan to stop denying access for humanitarian operations. We urge both the Government and the SPLM to improve the conditions within which humanitarian organisations work. We also aim to expand their access by visiting areas not usually accessible. For example our Ambassador in Khartoum visited Blue Nile state last month, the first diplomat to do so for some three years. Local UNICEF representatives said that his visit would help them gain access and establish a new office in that state.
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Mr. Bradshaw: We regularly discuss freedom of religion with the Government of Sudan and lobby on individual cases of abuses. Sharia law is by and large not imposed on mainly Christian areas such as south Sudan, although there are federal laws which infringe on religious freedom (eg Islamic banking system). The situation is worse for Christians in predominantly Muslim areas, such as around Khartoum, where they face implementation of Islamic punishments. We have maintained strong pressure on the Government of Sudan to change their policies in this respect and there has been limited progress over the last year and a half. We are also actively promoting inter-religious dialogue between religious leaders in Sudan and the UK.
Freedom of religion was the main topic of discussion at the EU-Sudan dialogue meeting on 23 October. Our Ambassador will host a meeting of EU Heads of Mission with the Minister of Religious Guidance and Endowments next week.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Sudanese Government to encourage it to co-operate with the International Committee of the Red Cross. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We consistently urge the Government of Sudan to co-operate with all the humanitarian agencies, including ICRC. The British Government provide significant funding to ICRC operations in Sudan.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Government's policies towards the Sudan; and what plans he has to help encourage the Sudanese Government towards the restoration of political parties there. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Our priorities for Sudan remain to support the peace process, to promote respect for human rights and to ensure efficient delivery of humanitarian assistance. We continue to promote democratic transformation. We regularly urge the Government of Sudan and other authorities to improve freedom of political association and assembly, and to remove legislation and end practices limiting other popular freedoms. This is also a core focus of the EU-Sudan dialogue, which the UK is currently chairing as local EU Presidency.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Sudanese Government on (a) female genital mutilation, (b) slavery, (c) people trafficking, (d) child labour and (e) torture. 
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Mr. Bradshaw: We regularly discuss these issues with the Sudanese authorities, including jointly with our European partners in the EU-Sudan dialogue. The Foreign Secretary raised human rights in his meeting with the Sudanese Foreign Minister on 21 September. We also fund project activity to promote constructive approaches to address these issues. We have, for example, provided funding to a large UNICEF programme targeting female genital mutilation. The issue of abductions was raised at the EU dialogue on 23 October and we have given significant funding to Save the Children (UK) for its work with the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children, and through the EU to UNICEF.
We have pushed hard for the ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) and raised it most recently at the EU-Sudan dialogue on 23 October. Ratification of CAT is now being considered by the Council of Ministers before being submitted to the National Assembly. We also regularly lobby on individual reports of torture and other abuses, working closely with the Sudanese Victims of Torture Group.
Mr. Bradshaw: On 21 September when my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Sudanese Foreign Minister in London. The promotion of human rights remains one of our priorities in Sudan and our Embassy in Khartoum is in constant touch with the Government of Sudan. Human rights are also a key focus of the EU-Sudan dialogue, which met most recently on 23 October.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent contact he has had with representatives of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army or the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: There have been some optimistic signs in Maluku in recent months. However, we continue to monitor events in the province closely. The United Nations has made several assessment visits to Maluku since 1999. It has found concrete evidence of only a small number of conversions, including the most highly reported case in Kasiui and Tior. Many of the Christians evacuated from the province in January are now reported to be voluntarily returning to their homes. Also, many
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Muslims and Christians who fled their villages to escape the violence are returning and Muslim leaders in some villages have asked for help in encouraging Christians to return.
The Department for International Development (DFID) has pledged more than £4 million to help establish the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Conflict Prevention and Recovery Unit in Jakarta. The unit will build capacity in conflict reduction and recovery in the provinces torn apart by ethnic conflict, particularly in north Maluku. These new initiatives will complement DFID-supported humanitarian relief programmes by addressing the causes underlying conflictabuse of power, alienation and loss of access to and control of resources essential for every day life. We will continue to work with the Indonesian authorities and UNDP to promote a reconciliation, begin wider reconstruction work and to offer practical assistance where appropriate.
The UK's message to the Indonesian Government has been consistently clear: a long-term solution to regional conflicts can be achieved only through political negotiation and consultation with the people. I raised these issues with Hamzah Haz, the Indonesian Vice President when we met in Jakarta on 27 August.
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