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Volume 447: debated on Wednesday 14 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 May 2006, Official Report, column 1416W, on the British embassy in Zimbabwe, where in Harare the new embassy will be located; what the timetable is for work on the new premises; what the total cost is forecast to be; what the total number of staff in the new premises is forecast to be; how many staff work in the existing embassy; what discussions she has had with the Government of Zimbabwe on the new embassy; and what plans she has for ministerial visits for the opening of the new embassy. (76236)

The new embassy in Zimbabwe will be located on a greenfield site in Mount Pleasant, a suburb six kilometres north of the centre of Harare. Construction should begin this year with a new embassy completed late 2008. We are unable to make public the cost of the project as to do so would prejudice our commercial interests in circumstances where the contracts have still to be tendered.

There are 110 staff, UK based and locally engaged, working in our existing embassy in Harare. This figure includes the staff of the Department of International Development-Zimbabwe who are co-located with the embassy. This number is unlikely to change on transfer to the new building. Our embassy in Harare has been in contact with Government of Zimbabwe about our plans and has obtained the necessary permission to build. There are no plans for Ministers to attend the opening of the new embassy.