HC Deb 06 March 2000 vol 345 cc502-3W
Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what factors were taken into account in evaluating applications for export licences for arms to parties involved in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [112702]

Mr. Hain

We uphold the EU arms embargo (imposed 7 April 1993), which prohibits the export of equipment on the Military List from the EU to the DRC. We are similarly upholding the UK sanctions on nongovernmental forces in Rwanda, which also apply to the sale and supply of arms to neighbouring states if they are for use in Rwanda; and on UNITA rebels in Angola.

Since 28 July 1997, we have examined export licence applications to all destinations against the new criteria that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced that day, Official Report, columns 26–29W. In addition, we have also examined applications against the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Sales since it was agreed in June 1998.

The Prime Minister's reply to a question from the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) on 9 February 2000, Official Report, columns 184–85, set out the basis of our new tighter policy on arms sales to countries intervening in the DRC.

Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what involvement his Department has had recently in attempting to find a political solution to the problems of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. [112697]

Mr. Hain

Britain is playing an active and constructive role in international efforts to resolve the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I represented Britain at January's Security Council meeting, which secured re-endorsement of the Lusaka Agreement and strong support for the deployment of a UN observer force. On 23 February, I chaired a meeting of UK Heads of Mission and US, French, Belgian and EU representatives in Nairobi to discuss the way forward in bringing peace to DRC. On 24 February, Britain supported the Security Council Resolution authorising a 5,500-strong observer force as the next phase of the UN mission.

Our aim now is to help all the parties implement the Lusaka Agreement; support the early deployment of the UN observer force as soon as conditions allow; get the national dialogue on the future governance of DRC under-way; and keep DRC on the international agenda.

We are already providing practical support: British officers are deployed in the region as part of the UN mission and we have made contributions of £160,000 to the Joint Military Commission and £25,000 to the national dialogue. We are ready to do more, as the parties actively demonstrate their commitment to the Lusaka Agreement.

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