HC Deb 13 April 1964 vol 693 cc2-4
4. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of negotiations between Her Majesty's Government, the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the other Governments concerned for a conference on the neutralisation of Cambodia.

8. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he is now taking in support of the neutrality of Cambodia.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I am continuing my efforts to establish a basis acceptable to all concerned for an international conference on Cambodia. Unfortunately, not all the Governments concerned are yet ready to take part in such a conference.

Mr. Brockway

In view of the very critical issue of the neutrality of Cambodia in this dangerous area of South-East Asia, can the right hon. Gentleman explain why so many months have passed since Prince Sihanouk first proposed a 14-Power conference? Could he also say why the proposal is now being made that this should be limited to a four-Power conference of the United States, Thailand, South Vietnam and Cambodia, when three of those nations would not accept the position of neutrality and are tied to one of the Power blocs? Would the right hon. Gentleman really give his earnest attention to try to bring about a solution to this problem?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. There has been a great many exchanges, and Prince Sihanouk himself has now acknowledged that it would be difficult to call a conference. He has postponed his demand for one at any rate till after his visit to France in June. The idea of a preliminary conference was not an alternative to the main conference at Geneva. The idea was that these nations principally concerned might get together on such problems as frontiers which might be dealt with preparatory to the main conference.

Mr. Mayhew

Is it not plain that the desire for neutrality is genuine and understandable? How does it come about that by resisting the Prince s procedural suggestions for the conference we have incurred his very strong resentment and suspicion, when our interests are in common?

Mr. Butler

Our interests certainly are in common to obtain the neutrality of Cambodia and to reassure the Cambodians in this respect. But there is a difficulty in summoning a conference when certain people do not wish to attend it. It is better to try to obtain their concurrence to attend a conference before one calls it.

Mr. Warbey

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the view that North Vietnam is not a principally interested party in this matter?

Mr. Butler

I would not like to comment on North Vietnam.

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