§ 11. Mr. Warbey
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, in view of official United States policy as stated by President Johnson that the United States Government are prepared to consider proposals for the neutralisation of Vietnam, he will now consult the Soviet Co-chairman regarding the re-summoning of the 1954 Geneva Conference in order to consider these and other proposals for ending the war in Vietnam and the implementation of the Geneva Agreements.
§ Mr. P. Thomas
The hon. Gentleman seems to have misunderstood the sense of remarks made by President Johnson. The President is reported to have told a Press conference on 1st February that, if neutralisation for both North Vietnam and South Vietnam were possible, he was sure that it would be considered sympathetically. However, he added that he saw no indication at present of this state of affairs coming to pass, as the Vietnamese Communists showed no signs of being prepared to let their neighbours live in peace. Her Majesty's Government agree with this view and, therefore, do not think it would he useful to reconvene the Geneva Conference of 1954 to discuss Vietnam.
§ Mr. Warbey
In view of this highly significant statement by President Johnson, the significance of which seems to have been completely misunderstood by the British Government, will the hon. Gentleman convey to his right hon. Friend the suggestion that the British Government might, as they did in 1954, try to find out whether it is not possible even now to bring about an end to this sale guerre in South Vietnam, bring about pacification of the whole area and achieve the neutralisation that was agreed upon by all the parties concerned in 1954?
§ Mr. Thomas
The difficulty is that, as far as I am aware, the North Vietnam authorities do not talk about the neutralisation of North Vietnam but solely about that of South Vietnam, and the position at the moment is that the insurgency movement in South Vietnam is assisted, encouraged and directed from North Vietnam. If that would cease, there would be a good opportunity of reaching the pacifying situation we all seek to find.
§ Mr. Warbey
Can the hon. Gentleman say what effort Her Majesty's Government have made to find out the views of Hanoi on this matter, and what effort they have made to and out the views of the Chinese People's Republic on this matter? Are they making any efforts whatsoever to achieve a settlement by negotiation instead of allowing this war to drag on endlessly? Are they glad to see the Americans bogged down in South Vietnam?
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Member knows quite well, and we have said it repeatedly, 11 that if the insurgency that is taking place, and the activities of the Viet-cong in South Vietnam, encouraged from North Vietnam, would stop, there would be a real chance of peace in that area. That is what we are trying to achieve.