§ Andrew Mackinlay
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 16 January 2003, ref 91205, when the Russian Federation has had its attention drawn to the need to put in place a legal framework satisfactory to donor countries. 230W
§ Mr. Mike O'Brien
The UK has been engaged in both multilateral and bilateral negotiations with Russia on such a legal framework for some time, but these negotiations are yet to be concluded. Throughout the negotiating process, UK officials have taken every opportunity, both in the negotiations themselves and at appropriate international meetings, to resolve difficulties and to stress the importance of a legal framework. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised the matter in discussions with the Russian President Putin in Moscow in October 2002. We hope the remaining legal obstacles can be overcome in the near future, and work can begin on this important programme.