§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I am very glad to be able to inform the House that we have reached agreement with the French Government on the subject of the joint withdrawal of French and British troops from the Levant States. The following statement, which is being issued by His Majesty's Government and the French Government summarises the agreement reached:
" The exchange of views relating to Levant and Near Eastern questions which took place between Mr. Bevin and M. Bidault last September on the occasion of the Five Foreign Ministers' Conference, have since continued through the diplomatic channel. Carried on in a spirit of friendship and mutual confidence, these discussions have just resulted in an Agreement on the various aspects of the problems under consideration.
" Inspired by the desire to eliminate in a lasting manner all differences of policy capable of prejudicing their respective interests, and damaging the good understanding which they propose to make even closer, the two Governments have recognised that it was in their joint interest to encourage, within the framework of international collaboration, the economic well-being and security of the peoples of the Middle East.
628 "Moreover, equally desirous of assuring to Syria and the Lebanon the full exercise of the independence proclaimed by France in 1941 and consecrated by the admission of these States into the United Nations, and in the wish to draw the natural conclusions arising from the end of hostilities with regard to the Allied military dispositions in the Levant, they have decided jointly to examine the conditions for a methodical re-grouping and withdrawal of their military forces in this zone.
" British and French military experts will meet for this purpose at Beirut on 21st December, 1945. One of their essential tasks will be to fix a very early date for the first measures of evacuation."
§ Mr. Eden
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept for himself and for those who work with him our congratulations on this important step towards a solution of a vexing problem? May I add that I feel sure it will be applauded by the House as removing an obstacle to friendship between ourselves and our French friends and neighbours, and that also no doubt it will be warmly welcomed in Syria and the Lebanon?