HC Deb 28 May 1962 vol 660 cc977-8
36. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Prince Souvanna Phouma has yet had another meeting with the two other princes and with General Phoumi; what further progress has been made towards a settlement of the Laos problem; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. P. Thomas

Prince Souvanna Phouma has returned to the Plain of Jars and has begun conversations aimed at forming a coalition government. He hopes shortly to have an audience of the King of Laos.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister not realise that the greatest obstacle to the success of the formation of this coalition Government and a genuinely neutral Laos, which is Her Majesty's Government's policy, is General Phoumi? Is the Minister aware that General Phoumi is backed by money and diplomatic influence from the United States of America? Will he make representations to the American Government to cease their support of General Phoumi in any way?

Mr. Thomas

I do not want to apportion blame. I agree with the hon. Member that General Phoumi and Prince Boun Oum have at times been dilatory, but I have no hesitation in saying that the policy of the United States Government is devoted to securing a coalition Government in Laos and a negotiated settlement at the Geneva Conference. I am satisfied that the American Government are sparing no efforts to this end.