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Boris Johnson - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

This government continues to believe that the best way to achieve stability in Yemen is through a political solution. The UKs priority is to support the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, in facilitating a credible peace process in Yemen. I deeply regret the failure of the parties to reach an agreement at the UN-led peace talks in Kuwait, and I continue to urge them to find the compromises that will end the current conflict.

There has been a sustained international effort in support of the UN throughout and the UK continues to play an active role. In July I hosted a meeting in London to discuss Yemen with the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US Secretary of State where we collectively reiterated our strong support for the role of the UN in mediating a lasting political solution to the crisis. We affirmed that a successful resolution should include arrangements that would require the withdrawal of armed groups from the capital and other areas, and a political agreement that would allow for the resumption of a peaceful, inclusive political transition. In August, Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, represented me in Saudi Arabia for talks with the US Secretary of State, GCC Foreign Ministers and the UN Special Envoy. The discussions focused on finding a way to end the political deadlock in Yemen, humanitarian assistance and ways to support Yemens precarious economy.

We will continue to support the peace process through our diplomatic efforts. The UK will host a discussion on Yemen at the UN General Assembly later this month with key international partners. In parallel, we continue to press for military restraint on all sides and call for a renewed commitment to a Cessation of Hostilities.

We are aware of reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) by parties to the conflict and take these very seriously. We regularly raise the importance of compliance with IHL with the Saudi Arabian Government and other members of the Saudi-Arabian led military Coalition. I raised the issue of IHL compliance with my Saudi counterpart, Foreign Minister Al Jubeir on 22 August. It is important that the Saudi Arabian-led Coalition in the first instance conducts thorough and conclusive investigations into incidents where it is alleged that IHL has been violated. They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations. It will also allow the Coalition forces to understand what went wrong and apply the lessons learnt in the best possible way. This is the standard we set ourselves and our allies.

In this respect, Saudi Arabia announced more detail of how incidents of concern involving Coalition forces are investigated on 31 January. The Saudi Arabian-led Coalition Joint Investigations Assessment Team publically announced the outcome of eight investigations on 4 August.

The UK Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application. The key test for our continued arms exports to Saudi Arabia in relation to IHL is whether there is a clear risk that those weapons might be used in a commission of a serious violation of IHL. Having regard to all the information available to us, we assess that this test has not been met.


Boris Johnson - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

My right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon), and I wish to make a joint statement about the significant contribution that Her Majestys Government has made to international efforts to ensure the safe destruction of precursor chemicals from Libyas historic chemical weapons programme.

Libyas chemical weapons stockpile was destroyed under international supervision and verification by 2014. However, a quantity of precursor chemicals remained in Libya. The international community was concerned about the risks that, in the current security situation, these chemicals might be acquired and misused by non-state actors. Earlier this year, the Libyan Government of National Accord asked for support from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the international community to remove the remaining chemicals from Libya and to destroy them in a safe and timely manner in a third country. The UK has played a major role in coordinating international efforts to assist Libya and the OPCW to achieve this, including in the UN Security Council and with practical steps.

On 22 July, I voted on behalf of the UK in the UN Security Council for authority to be given for the chemicals to be removed from Libya for destruction in another country. Subsequently, the Danish Government asked the UK to provide a naval escort to support Denmarks operation to ship the chemicals out of Libya.

The Secretary of State for Defence agreed to provide support, in the same way as the Royal Navy supported Denmark and Norway in the operation to remove chemical weapons from Syria in 2014. During late August, RFA Mounts Bay escorted the Danish task group from Libya through the Mediterranean.

In order to enable the safe transport and destruction of the Libyan chemicals, and to provide verification assistance to the OPCW, experts at the UKs Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down were tasked to analyse samples of the chemicals. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has contributed some 500,000 to support both the analysis and destruction of the chemicals.

The UKs contribution to this task is now almost complete. The chemicals are being taken to a specialist facility in a third country, where they will be safely destroyed.

In close cooperation with our international partners notably Denmark, Germany and the US, who contributed significant funding to the overall destruction effort, as well as with the OPCW the UK has taken practical and effective action to eliminate chemical weapon risks in Libya. This reinforces our collective commitment to the people and government of Libya, and, ultimately, to all of us who want to live in a world free from chemical weapons.


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