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Central Asia

Volume 520: debated on Tuesday 14 December 2010

10. What recent assessment he has made of the state of UK relations with the countries of central Asia. (30270)

Central Asia is an important region for UK strategic interests. We value our constructive relationships with countries in this fast-developing region and want to strengthen these further. We have much to gain from closer engagement on a range of issues, including those relating to Afghanistan and democratic and other reform. We are also seeking to deepen our commercial links.

Instead of the Government’s supine silence on Liu Xiaobo and their continued kowtowing to the Communist party of China, is it not time they gave a much higher priority to building the newly emerged democracies across central Asia with practical support and assistance?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who is secretary of the all-party group on central Asia. We are working carefully and closely on supporting the EU-central Asia strategy. Furthermore, the other day, the Deputy Prime Minister attended a very important meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, at which he met its president. I think that progress is being made all round.

Will the Minister join me in paying tribute to the excellent work of Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, who did an excellent job in the Balkans with the Dayton accords?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those comments and I join him in paying tribute to Mr Holbrooke, who was a remarkable statesman. He made extraordinary progress that can be built on in the future.