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Middle East

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the government of (a) Iran and (b) Syria about its role in arming Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon; what reply was received from each; and if she will make a statement. (87100)

Ministers have had no recent contact with their Syrian counterparts. However, we do have contact with Syria through our respective embassies, and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials have discussed the situation in the Middle East with Syrian officials throughout the crisis in Lebanon. We have also summoned the Syrian Ambassador in London to pressure Syria to take action in relation to Hezbollah.

Ministers and officials have discussed Iran's approach to terrorism and its role in the region with their Iranian counterparts on many occasions. Senior FCO officials also protested to the Iranian Ambassador in London during the conflict to urge Iran to stop their support for Hezbollah.

We are very concerned about the role of Syria and Iran. Iran supplies Hezbollah with financing and weapons and has personnel in Lebanon assisting Hezbollah. As well as supplying arms to Hezbollah, Syria facilitates the supply of arms and finance from Iran to Hezbollah. Through their support for Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are encouraging extremism, threatening the stability of the region, and putting peace in the Middle East further out of reach. We have repeatedly called on Syria and Iran to stop their support for Hezbollah and their interference in Lebanese internal affairs in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 October 2006, Official Report, columns 14-16WS, on the middle east peace process/Lebanon, what actions are planned (a) to develop a new programme to build viable institutions for a future Palestinian state and (b) to develop capacity in the Palestinian Territories. (94367)

We are continuing to discuss options to develop capacity building and viable institutions in the Occupied Territories with our EU and other international partners.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 10 October 2006, Official Report, columns 14-16WS, on the middle east peace process/Lebanon, if she will make a statement on the proposed UK role in improving Palestinian security. (94368)

We will continue to discuss proposals for improving Palestinian security with our international partners.