HC Deb 20 October 1999 vol 336 cc599-600W
Mr. Eric Clarke

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on relations between Britain and Sierra Leone. [94876]

Mr. Hain

We welcomed the signature on 7 July of the Lome Peace Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front. Our objective now is to help the Government and people of Sierra Leone to implement the peace agreement, and thus build a framework for lasting peace and security.

We have implemented the £10 million package of assistance which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced on 2 March 1999. This has included: UK military advisers helping to train the new, democratically accountable Sierra Leone Army; a range of equipment for the new Army including uniforms, vehicles, and light weapons; logistical support and equipment for the ECOMOG peacekeeping forces; and support for civil society and Government participation in the negotiation of the peace agreement. The ECOWAS Secretariat confirmed that the weapons could be imported as an exemption to the ECOWAS Small Arms Moratorium; and the UN Sanctions Committee was notified of these exports. We are working with the United Nations to support the early deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to Sierra Leone.

DfID and the MOD are also supporting a range of projects in Sierra Leone. We will take every opportunity, including at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Durban, to encourage further support for Sierra Leone from others in the international community.

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