|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): We have discussed the expansion of the international security assistance force with a number of our colleagues, including Hamid Karzai, chairman of the Afghan Interim Administration. The expansion of ISAF beyond Kabul is not a matter for the UK alone, but for the whole international community. The UN Security Council resolution 1386 limits ISAF to Kabul and the surrounding area.
Mr. Mullin: May I put it to my hon. Friend that the problems in Afghanistan are by no means over, and that a little help will be required from the Americans among others to stabilise the situation there before we turn another country inside out?
Mr. Bradshaw: I agree with my hon. Friend that an enormous job of work remains to be done in Afghanistan. The Americans are contributing a great deal in terms of special forces on the ground and financial support. However, I agree that the international community and the United Kingdom should not repeat the mistake that we made 10 years ago. We shall not abandon Afghanistan until we have ensured its secure and prosperous future.
Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon): What steps are the Government taking, whether by the use of peacekeeping forces or otherwise, to make sure that the farmers of Afghanistan do not take advantage of their new-found peace simply to return to the massive production of heroin, as they have done in the past, and to export it through Europe and thereby ruin the lives of young people in the countries that liberated them in the first place?
Mr. Bradshaw: ISAF is not strictly responsible for the areas of Afghanistan to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Its remit is restricted to Kabul and its surroundings, so its ability to act in that regard is limited. However, the interim authority has put on record its determination to stamp out opium production. The signs are encouragingthe prediction is that this year's crop will be about a third of what it was under the Taliban.
We are working hard with the Afghan Interim Administration and the rest of the international community, with all the extra funding promised at the Tokyo conference. Part of that money will be used for crop substitution and other schemes to help wean Afghan
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Denis MacShane): The North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister, Choe Su Hon, visited London in December. He met my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, and I held detailed talks with him. I told Mr. Choe that North Korea should end its missile exports and comply fully with its nuclear commitments under the agreed framework, tackle its poor human rights record, and hold talks with the South Koreans and the United States.
Mr. Grogan: During those discussions, was the question of the "sunshine" policy of engagement with the North of President of South Korea, Kim Dae-Jung, raised? In my hon. Friend's judgment, did President Bush's "axis of evil" speech help or hinder the development of that policy?
Mr. MacShane: The Government strongly support President Kim Dae-Jung's "sunshine" engagement policy. In all my talks in South Korea, I have expressed that support and I urge whoever succeeds him this year as president to continue that policy.
When President Bush interpreted the "axis of evil" speech when he visited the region, he made it quite clear that there was no question of any military attack on North Korea. He repeated what Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has said, that the United States is ready for talks
Mr. Smith: Does my hon. Friend think that the American Administration's nuclear posture review that advocates targeting North Korea and other non-nuclear countries will improve international security? What is more, does he think that it will help or hinder the international community's attempts to deter North Korea from developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that can deliver a nuclear payload?
Mr. MacShane: Surely the important point is that the policy review, as reported in the press, reiterated the United States' commitment to a "no first use" policy. It also indicated that America was seeking to reduce the number of its nuclear missiles from 6,000 to 2,000. The message that my hon. Friend and other Members surely should convey is that we want North Korea to engage with, to talk to and to open up to the rest of the world.
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield): Is North Korea not already developing ballistic missiles and is it not building silos for those ballistic missiles? Is it not the case that, when those silos are completed, there will be no way of disarming North Korea short of a dreadful attack?
Mr. MacShane: As I said in my first answer, I told the Vice-Foreign Minister of North Korea that we wanted North Korea to stop the proliferation and export of the missiles that it is building. It is a serious issue, and the hon. Gentleman is right to say that it must be addressed. That is why we want a policy of getting North Korea to the negotiating tablewhether with the United States, South Korea or anyone else.
Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk): The Under- Secretary will recall the declaration of March 2000 that called for Government-to-Government dialogue and inter-Korean economic co-operation on the Korean peninsula. Given that President Kim's attempts to engage with the North have been limited in success and given North Korea's substantial military capability, including, we believe, the possession of weapons of mass destruction, will the Under-Secretary urgently press for a specific anti-terrorism agreement between the two countries, which has been requested by the South Koreans? That is at least one way of moving towards creating a sense of peace and stability in the region.
Mr. MacShane: That is a very positive suggestion. I certainly urge the North Koreans to enter into talks with the South Koreans to take that kind of confidence- building agreement forward. It would be most welcome in the region as a whole.
Linda Perham: I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he confident that Cyprus will be among the first wave of countries to be admitted to the EU in 2002 whether or not there is a solution to the problem of the division of the island? Will he visit Cyprus to discuss its application?
I intend to visit Cyprus in the near future, and that is crucial because we are seen as champions of EU enlargement. Countries such as Cyprus see us as their friends, but they do not see the Conservative Opposition as their friends, because the Tories voted against the Nice treaty, which will allow Cyprus into the EU.
Cyprus has already closed 24 of the 29 chapters that it has opened in the negotiations preceding its accession to the EU. We hope that the process will continue and that, if at all possible, Cyprus will come in as a united island after a bi-communal, bi-zonal peace settlement has been achieved. However, if that is not possible, the Republic of Cyprus and its Government are recognised by the EU as entitled to join if they complete the negotiations.
Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East): Now that the Minister's fanaticism is becoming clearer to everyone, will he at least accept that it would be expensive nonsense and a shambles for the European Union to be extended without a fundamental review of its agricultural policy? Bearing in mind the level of overproduction and the enormous potential for production in eastern Europe, does he agree that we should not accept the complete nonsense that will result unless we get fundamental agricultural reform?
Peter Hain: The hon. Gentleman knows all about fanaticism, if I may say so. To answer his question, the common agricultural policy needs reform; there is no question about that. Indeed, the Government initiated proceedings that resulted in an initial stage of reform in 1999. That is continuing. The CAP cannot continue in its present form. It will collapse as a result of enlargement. That will force reform if no other forces in the European Union do so. The hon. Gentleman should take account of the fact that many of our friends, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Cyprus, are among the applicant states that want to join the European Union. He should be supporting them, not opposing them like his Front- Bench colleagues.