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Chagos Islands

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his American counterpart on the future of the Diego Garcia airbase in the Chagos Islands in light of the expiry of the agreement for US-UK joint use of Diego Garcia for defence operations in 2016. (245421)

The UK and US consult closely and regularly on their mutual defence needs, including in the annual bilateral official talks on the British Indian Ocean Territory last held in London 18-19 September 2008. To date neither the UK nor the US has raised the possibility of terminating the agreement.

The use of the British Indian Ocean Territory is regulated by a series of bilateral agreements (Exchange of Notes) between the UK and the US. The 1966 Exchange of Notes provides that the islands of the British Indian Ocean Territory, including Diego Garcia, shall be available for defence purposes of both countries for an initial period of 50 years i.e., until 2016 and continuing thereafter for a further period of 20 years unless terminated by either Government not more than two years before the end of the initial period.