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Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on the flow of illegal drugs to the (a) UK and (b) EU of Venezuela’s lack of co-operation in counter-narcotics operations with (i) neighbouring countries and (ii) the United States. (111615)

We estimate that a significant proportion of cocaine transiting Venezuela is destined for Europe and the UK. Intelligence and seizures suggest that cocaine flows through Venezuela are increasing.

It is important therefore that the UK, EU and Venezuela’s neighbours are able to co-operate closely with the Venezuelan authorities in countering the flow of narcotics through the country. Preventing the importation of cocaine into the UK from Venezuela is a top priority for the UK’s international counter-narcotics efforts. We are already working with Venezuela on counter-narcotics and are keen to increase our engagement. We welcome President Chavez’s election pledge to tackle corruption. This will be an important element in developing the counter-narcotics effort in Venezuela. I visited Venezuela recently to understand the nature and extent of the drug problems encountered in that country.

Co-operation between Venezuela and its regional neighbours is a matter for the Governments concerned.