MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the account published by the Russian official newspapers, The Turkestan Gazette, giving details of the conflict between Russian and Afghan troops at Somatash in the Alichur Pamir on the 24th July last, and stating that 674 Colonel Ionoff, in command of the Russian troops, justified his attack on the Afghans by alleging that "in virtue of the Convention concluded with Great Britain in 1872–3 this district belongs to Russia"; whether the Convention of 1872–3 contained any definition of what territory belonged to Russia; whether it is claimed by the Chinese Government that part of the Pamirs occupied by Russian troops belongs to China, and by the Amir of Afghanistan that part thereof belongs to Afghanistan; whether Her Majesty's Government have entertained the suggestion that an Anglo-Russian Boundary Commission shall be appointed to settle between England and Russia alone the boundaries of territories in the Pamirs without giving to China or to Afghanistan any voice in the settlement; and when he intends to lay before this House any Papers containing information respecting the Russian occupation of and claims to the Pamirs?
§ *SIR. E. GREY
Yes. The Agreement of 1872–3 has been laid before Parliament. It did not contain any definition of Russian territory. Pending the result of the negotiations now proceeding it is not advisable to make any statement in Parliament as to the respective claims of China, Afghanistan, and Russia in the Pamirs, or as to the proposals of the Governments of this country, Russia, and China. No papers can be laid at present, but I may add that Her Majesty's Government Will certainly not act without careful reference to the claims both of Afghanistan and China.