Having withdrawn British troops from Belize, are the Minister and the Government satisfied that sufficient arrangements are in place to ensure that the territorial integrity of Belize is safe in the event of any external aggression? In particular, are there arrangements in place which will assist Belize in the event of substantial illegal migration affecting the territorial integrity of that state?
The Government do not believe that a renewed military threat is likely. The Guatemalan Government have made clear their intention to resolve their disputes peacefully through negotiation.
As to the ability to cope without the support of British forces, we agreed with the Government of Belize that the British garrison should be reduced to a training presence and that the Belize defence force would assume responsibility, as I said, on 1 January 1994. We have made it clear that we shall maintain our programme of assistance for the development of the BDF to sustain and improve the force's capability through the provision of loaned service personnel, equipment, training and advice. In addition, Belize continues to receive substantial amounts of British aid.
One possible cause of instability in that area is, of course, the run-up to the presidential elections in Guatemala in October. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that he will make it clear to the Guatemalans that any playing with Belize would be extremely unhelpful because that country is a member of the United Nations and the Commonwealth and would get our full backing, and that we should like to see our warm relations with Guatemala extended and developed?
My hon. Friend, as ever, asks a wise question about Latin American affairs. We have maintained good relationships with Belize and Guatemala. Guatemala is clear about our stance with respect to Belize, and I think that that had a sizeable influence on their current position on the matter.