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Western Sahara

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 26 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings have been held with representatives of the Polisario movement of the Western Sahara in the past six months; and if he will make a statement. [17840]

The United Nations have held direct talks with the parties involved in the Western Sahara issue. We support the UN's role in securing a settlement to the dispute.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding HMG has provided towards UN operations in the Western Sahara for each of the last five years. [17829]

We have made the following contributions to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in each of the last five financial years:

  • 1992–93: £815,057
  • 1993–94: £310,496
  • 1994–95: £22,527
  • 1995–96: £3,676,702
  • 1996–97: £641,173
The first three figures are the costs of a UK military contribution (15 military observers and the Chief of Staff) which was made from 1991–93. The last two figures show our UN-assessed contributions.The UK pays 6.568 per cent. in assessed contributions of the total yearly cost of every UN peacekeeping operation. However, because the UK's contribution to MINURSO was over-assessed in 1991–92, no bills for assessed contributions were received in the following three financial years. Our estimated contribution for 1997–98 is £700,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans his Department has to ensure observers are present in the Western Sahara until the United Nations referendum on its future is held; and if he will make a statement. [17842]

We support the UN mission in the Western Sahara. We have welcomed the Secretary-General's report dated 13 November 1997 to the Security Council, which contains recommendations on MINURSO's deployment. As a permanent member of the Security Council, we are playing a leading role in discussion on that deployment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made by United Kingdom representatives at the United Nations concerning the holding of a referendum on the future of the Western Sahara; and if he will make a statement. [17839]

The United Nations is helping to prepare the ground for a referendum in Western Sahara. As a permanent member of the Security Council, the UK is playing an active role in discussions on the future deployment of MINURSO and on the UN mission.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held with the Government of Morocco concerning the future of the Western Sahara. [17841]

The United Nations has held direct talks with the parties involved in the Western Sahara issue. We support the UN's role in securing a settlement to the dispute.