HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 cc151-2
23. Mr. Andy King (Rugby and Kenilworth)

If he will make a statement on UK relations with Algeria. [40514]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Derek Fatchett)

The UK maintains a broad-based dialogue with Algeria, at both political and senior official levels. We remain deeply concerned about the continuing violence there and believe that dialogue offers the best chance of contributing to an improvement in the situation. As we hold the presidency of the European Union, we co-ordinate our position on Algeria with our partners, who share our commitment to dialogue. As part of that process, earlier this year, I led an EU mission to Algeria.

Mr. King

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that the price of victory and the power struggle in Algeria is being paid for with the bodies of innocent women and children?

Mr. Fatchett

I am sure that every hon. Member shares the view, expressed by my hon. Friend, that every loss of life is one too many. Algeria has suffered great human loss in the past few months and years, and we need to ensure that it is brought to an end. If the United Kingdom and the European Union can contribute to the political dialogue to achieve that objective, we shall do so.

We should also like there to be, internally, much greater openness, transparency and respect for human rights in Algeria, which is why both the European Union and the United Kingdom have been trying to persuade the Algerian Government that there is a need for the Algerians to invite in United Nations special rapporteurs. I am sure that it would be in the interests of us all, including the Algerians, to ensure that there is such openness, and that we have a full record of what happens internally within Algeria.

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