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Robin Cook's statement that it is in Britain's national interest to promote freedom and democracy is an important acknowledgement of Britain's responsibilities in the world.

The Foreign Secretary failed to acknowledge, however,

that the UK government's record on human rights is being let down by the actions of the DTI in allowing arms to be exported to countries where there is a serious danger they may be used to violate human rights.

Mark Lattimer, Communications Director at Amnesty International UK, said:

'Following the well-publicised conflicts in government over arms sales , the ball is now firmly in the Prime Minister's court. Does Tony Blair think that Britain's reputation in the world should be as a force for human rights -- or as pedlar of arms that destroy people's lives?'

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