HC Deb 28 January 1953 vol 510 cc999-1000
33. Sir I. Fraser

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any further statement on the progress and prospects of negotiations for a truce in Korea.

Mr. Eden

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) on 21st January.

Sir I. Fraser

Would my right hon. Friend consider, and if possible re-define, what are the purposes which we have in view in joining with other Powers in this war in Korea, and what circumstances are likely to arise there should victory be attained?

Mr. Eden

I thought that at the last meeting of the U.N. General Assembly nothing could really have been clearer than the proposals put forward by the Indian delegation, with our support and that of all but the Soviet bloc, to try to bring this conflict to an end. We still stand by those proposals and we can only deplore the fact that the Communist bloc derided them.

Mr. Noel-Baker

While agreeing with what the Foreign Secretary has just said, may I ask him if he will tell the Indian Government that he will give them his support, with that of others whom he can persuade. if they will make another attempt with the Chinese Government. and if in particular they will try to clear up the misunderstanding of the Peking Government on the Prisoner of War Convention?

Mr. Eden

I think every attempt was made by the India Government, and by the United Nations, to explain the meaning of that Resolution to the Government in Peking. But, as I have said, we are always ready to consider any other possible basis of negotiation, provided it does not infringe the essential principles which this House as a whole has endorsed.

Mr. S. Silverman

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, and while agreeing that the Indian proposals were reasonable and might well have been accepted, may I ask him if, nevertheless, he would say whether in the present situation there would be anything very dangerous in having a cease-fire now, and referring the question of the prisoners, with all other questions that arise out of an armistice, to negotiations there?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. The hon. Gentleman has more than once, and perfectly reasonably, put this point to me. But I do not think Her Majesty's Government, or the Governments who have troops in Korea, would think it wise, or indeed could agree, to that suggestion for an armistice without arrangements being made about our prisoners of war. We should, I think, place our prisoners 3f war in a most dangerous position.

Mr. Silverman

But will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in those circumstances we should still have in our hands very many more prisoners than they have in theirs? And in view of their expressed anxiety in these matters about the fate of their prisoners, may it not very well be that the dangers of such a course as I have suggested have been exaggerated?

Mr. Eden

As the hon. Gentleman will understand, there are other considerations besides that. I do not want to put it offensively, but one has to bear in mind the relative feelings we have in respect of prisoners of war in these countries, and I do not think it would be right or just to agree to an arrangement of that kind.

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