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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 11:28 GMT
Pakistan arms exports 'splits' cabinet

General Pervez Musharraf has yet to recieve arms from the UK


The cabinet is split over whether to resume arms exports to Pakistan, reports have suggested

The Guardian newspaper says Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon and Trade Secretary Stephen Byers want a freeze lifted on the 80 arms exports licences that have already been granted to Pakistan.

The suspension of exports was put in place after a military government took power in Pakistan in October.

The paper says Mr Byers and Mr Hoon were strongly opposed in cabinet by the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and the International Development Secretary Clare Short.

Both ministers fear sending arms to Pakistan would throw into question the government's commitment to an ethical foreign policy.

New elections

After the coup Mr Cook was instrumental in having Pakistan suspended from the Commonwealth after the military government ended democracy.

But Pakistan's new leader General Pervez Musharraf says fresh elections will take place.

The Guardian's reports come ahead of Wednesday's meeting between the Chief of the Defence staff, Sir Charles Guthrie, and General Musharraf.

The paper also reports civil servants from the DTI and the MOD saying the UK's EU partners "seem to be doing business as usual and show no signs of wanting to contemplate an arms embargo.

"The MoD and DT, therefore, wish to expediate the consideration of these applications in the normal way."

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Ban on underwriting arms sales

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