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Iraq

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the capacity of Iraqi civil society to participate in the rebuilding of Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the measures being taken to foster Iraqi participation in the future governance of Iraq. [110982]

The role of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) is to help facilitate the rebuilding of Iraq. A series of meetings (which began in Nasiriyah and Baghdad) will draw together Iraqi consensus from a broad range of opinion in order to establish an Iraqi Interim Authority in four weeks time. It will be for the Iraqis themselves to decide the shape of their future government. It is too early to predict when elections can be held and Iraqi self-governance attained.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimates he has (a) made and (b) received of the number and sterling value of (i) antiquities, (ii) cultural artefacts and (iii) works of art which have been looted from Iraq since coalition forces occupied the country. [110600]

It is too early to make any accurate assessment. The Director of Research of the Iraq Museum provided information on some items which have been looted from the Museum to a seminar of professionals at the British Museum on 29 April.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United Nations regarding the security of antiquities and works of cultural value remaining in Iraq. [110601]

We are talking to our partners on the UN Security Council about this issue with a view to ensuring that it is not overlooked when sanctions are lifted. We will be arguing for language which calls for member states to facilitate the return of any stolen artifacts and impose a moratorium or other prohibitions on trade in Iraqi artifacts until their provenance can be established.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United Nations concerning export criteria on (a) works of art, (b) items of cultural value and (c) antiquities in Iraq, in the event of the lifting of trade sanctions; and if he will make a statement. [110602]

We condemn the illicit trade in Iraqi antiquities. We are therefore working to ensure that Iraq's cultural assets are respected when sanctions are lifted; and we are discussing with other Security Council members the best way of restricting the export of these assets. Under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property we and other signatory countries have an obligation to prevent the import of stolen Iraqi antiquities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about sanctions on Iraq. [110974]

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are to parole and vet Iraqi soldiers prior to their involvement in reconstruction activities. [110975]

Coalition forces are working on plans for a programme of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDK). This will concentrate on processing former Iraqi military personnel for integration into the new Iraqi National Defence Force. Those deemed unsuitable will be returned to civilian life, unless they face criminal investigation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about what co-ordination there has been with the United Nations regarding the future governance of Iraq. [110976]

We are in close touch with members of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General about various aspects of our policy on Iraq. These include exploring a UN role in the political process leading to the emergence of a new Iraqi Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department made of civilian infrastructures and what plans were made for the restoration of essential services in Iraq, prior to military action; and if he will make future plans publicly available. [110977]

The US led Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) has with UK support taken the lead in restoring essential services. Prior to the conflict the Government recognised the need to provide early post-conflict relief and allocated £210 million for rehabilitation projects in Iraq. Future plans will be made public, as they become available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether journalists operating in Iraq for British publications and broadcasting outlets have to have permission from General Jay Garner to carry out their reportage in Iraq. [111240]

No. Journalists representing the British media currently have permission from CENTCOM (the coalition's central command).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to authenticate documents claimed to have been found in Baghdad by journalists working for British-based publications that purport to establish a link between the former Iraqi Government and Al-Qaeda terrorists. [111243]

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, between 1 January and the day he surrendered. [111244]

There have been no discussions with Tariq Aziz since the last Gulf War.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that Iraqi women and Iraqi women's organisations are included in all stages of preparation for the Iraqi interim authority and the preparation of a new Iraqi constitution. [111909]

We are seriously exploring the option of holding an Iraqi women's conference to produce representatives. The UK funded "Towards Freedom" television channel will soon be transmitting programmes to encourage women to participate in this process. Our military on the ground and our secondees in the Coalition's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) are aware of their responsibilities under Resolution 1325. A gender expert from the Women's Equality Unit at the Department for Trade and Industry will soon join ORHA to focus on these issues.