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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Her Majesty's Government were disappointed that the referendum in the Western Sahara had to be postponed until December 1999. The UN Secretary General recently visited the region and presented to all the parties involved a package of proposals intended to advance the referendum process. The Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania have all accepted this package and we hope that Morocco also will soon accept. We fully support the UN's efforts to find a just and durable settlement to this dispute. We are working with our EU partners, within the Friends of the Western Sahara Group at the UN and at the Security Council to encourage Morocco to rally to the consensus on the next steps in the process.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government are aware of the proposals advocated in Fast Track to Zero Nuclear Weapons. We wish to see a safer world in which there is no place for nuclear weapons, and remain ready to support measures that will make a practical contribution to advancing nuclear disarmament.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government have not directly received any such message. We are, however, aware of recent calls from the "New Agenda Coalition" of states and others for progress towards nuclear disarmament. We remain ready to support measures that will make a practical contribution to achieving that goal.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Security Council is united in insisting that Iraq complies fully with its obligations under the relevant resolutions, and in believing that it has failed to do so. In the case of the military action against Iraq in December, we had many offers of support from allies, but in the event it was not practical for other nations to take part.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government are aware of the ban on the distribution of Evrensel that came into force on 3 January. We will raise this issue with the Turkish authorities and ask them to clarify the reasons for this measure. We continue to reiterate to the Turkish authorities the need to promote freedom of expression.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government is aware of rumours of Ugandan military incursions into southern Sudan in September 1998, but we do not have any corroborating evidence that these took place.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: In addition to the UK, a number of EU partners issued statements after the US action against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in August 1998. There was no initiative to issue a joint EU statement.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It would entail disproportionate cost to determine the total value of licences granted since 2 May 1997 for the export of military goods to Indonesia. Some licences are used only in part, while others may not be used at all.
The Government are soon to publish their annual report on strategic export controls. It will list by country of destination the number of export licences issued in each equipment category, and give details of the military equipment for which licences have been granted.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Her Majesty's Government will contribute to the preparation of EU initiatives at the Commission on Human Rights in meetings of the CSFP Human Rights Working Group in February and March.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are welcome to provide input through the EU Presidency or member states. My honourable friend the Minister of State, Mr. Lloyd, will be hosting a briefing session for UK-based NGOs on 4 February to hear their views.
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