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Iraq: Reconstruction

Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the (a) development of Basra International Airport and (b) renovation of Umm Qasr port since 8 October 2007; and what contribution has been made to each project by the UK. (240834)

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in his statement on 22 July 2008, Official Report, columns 660-63, preparing to transfer Basra International Airport to Iraqi civilian control is one of the key remaining tasks for UK forces in southern Iraq. Good progress has been made and the Iraqi civilian authorities now operate it as a civil airport during daylight hours. We remain on course formally to transfer responsibility for the airport to the Iraqi civilian authorities around the turn of the year.

Trade at Umm Qasr port has increased by 10 per cent. over the last year, and is forecast to increase by more than that again in 2009. Regeneration plans for the port are now being led and co-ordinated by the Iraqi Government, with support from Coalition personnel, including from the UK. UK personnel are providing advice and facilitation to the regeneration efforts, and UK forces are providing training to a company of Iraqi Marines guarding the port’s perimeter.