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Volume 300: debated on Monday 10 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the actions taken by his Department to obtain the release of Camilla Carr and Jon James, presently held by kidnappers in Chechnya. [14800]

Since 3 July, when Jon James and Camilla Can were kidnapped, their employers and we have sought to establish the facts and are working hard for their release. As their families know, the Prime Minister spoke to President Yeltsin about the couple last month. We are also in touch with the Chechen authorities, but the ability of the Russian or, indeed, any government to help in this troubled region is limited. There has been a spate of kidnappings in and around Chechnya in recent months, which may be criminally inspired: one reason why our strong consular advice is that British citizens should not travel to Chechnya.