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Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of (a) the visit of United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, to Burma and (b) the effect of his visit on (i) human rights for the Burmese people, (ii) restrictions on humanitarian aid efforts, (iii) the use of forced labour and (iv) efforts to secure the release of political prisoners; (102322)

(2) when she expects United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari to brief the Security Council on his visit to Burma.

I met Ibrahim Gambari on 15 November to discuss his visit to Burma. Mr. Gambari called for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners; a credible and inclusive National Convention process; the lifting of restrictions on humanitarian aid agencies and an early agreement with the International Labour Organisation on forced labour. He also offered to send a UN interagency technical mission to Karen State.

Mr. Gambari also emphasised to Burma’s leaders that the UN and international community expected concrete actions. However, it is too early to assess the impact the visit has had on these key issues.

Though no date has been set, Mr. Gambari is expected to brief the UN Security Council shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what preparations have been made to move the

In November 2005, the Burmese government informed embassies that plots of land would be available in the new administrative capital of Naypyitaw from the end of 2007 for those embassies who wished to have a presence there. We have received no further information or notification from the government. At present, we have no plans to move the British embassy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports she has received of the Burmese regime targeting members of the Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon ethnic groups; what recent discussions she has had with the UK Ambassador to the United Nations regarding the human rights situation in Burma; and if she will make a statement. (102509)

We receive regular reports of human rights violations against Burma's ethnic groups. I raised this issue with the Burmese ambassador on 16 June and in my letter to the Burmese Foreign Minister on 5 July. Our ambassador in Rangoon frequently raises our concerns with the regime, most recently on 23 October, when he met the Burmese Minister for Home Affairs.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no recent discussions about Burma with the UK's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Our Permanent Representative raised the situation of Burma's ethnic groups when the UN Security Council formally discussed Burma on 29 September.

I also raised human rights in Burma with Association of South East Asian Nations ambassadors, including the Burmese ambassador, when I met them on 18 September. I discussed Burma in detail with the UN Under-Secretary General, Ibrahim Gambari, when I met him immediately after his visit there on 15 November.