HC Deb 21 December 1967 vol 756 cc1475-7
Q3. Mr. Winnick

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he has had with the leaders of other countries about a New Year cease-fire in Vietnam.

Mr. George Brown

I have been asked to reply.

Sir, we are in frequent contact with other Governments about the war in Vietnam, but the details of these exchanges must, of course, remain confidential.

Mr. Winnick

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that very great disappointment is felt because the Americans are to stop their bombing in Vietnam for only a very short period of time? Are the British Government urging the Americans to have an indefinite pause so that negotiations, genuine negotiations, can be started? We are really sick of this war in Vietnam.

Mr. Brown

I have told my hon. Friend many times that I am sick of the war in Vietnam, and I am as sick of the war from the one side as I am from the other. If my hon. Friend is really interested in stopping the war he would do better—I repeat this again—to distribute his condemnation a little more fairly— [Interruption.—and be a little nearer the mark.

Mr. Winnick

Come off it.

Mr. Brown

As to what consultations we are having with the Americans, or other Powers, about how to bring this to an end, this must remain confidential.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

In this context, will the Foreign Secretary reiter- ate the fact that the Government realise and admit the moral right of what the Americans are trying to do in Vietnam, on behalf of the free world?

Mr. Brown

I do not think that I will help very much if I am drawn from that side, any more than if I am drawn from this side.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Would my right hon. Friend nevertheless understand the range and width of feeling that there is on this? Does he realise that there is this opportunity of securing a wider extension of the bombing pause?

Mr. Brown

I wonder why some of my hon. Friends assume that I do not share the width and range of feeling. I share it very deeply, but it is better that one addresses oneself to trying to bring the beastly thing to an end, rather than trying to moralise in empty gestures.

Mr. Goodhart

Have the Government any evidence at all that the Government of North Vietnam wish to enter peace negotiations or to de-escalate the war at present?

Mr. Brown

The House knows that this is the situation. The President of the United States made quite clear, in his San Antonio speech, how ready, willing and anxious the United States is to get to the negotiating table and what it is willing to do, including stopping the bombing, the moment Hanoi indicates that it is ready to go to the table. The trouble is that Hanoi is not ready to go to the table or even to indicate that it would. This is how it is we cannot make progress; this is why I ask those who share my deep feeling, instead of abusing those who want to negotiate, and instead of abusing the one co-Chairman of the Geneva Convention who wants to resume the negotiations, to address their reproaches to the other quarters.

Mr. Dalyell

In his talks with other Governments will my right hon. Friend raise once again the question of the violation of the Cambodia frontiers? This matter is urgent.

Mr. Brown

I would like to make progress there, and I would like to use the Geneva Convention arrangements for that too. These things tend to be interrelated. I do not want to exacerbate things by referring to what goes on, from Cambodia into Vietnam. I do not think one can— one has to approach this in a constructive spirit—disregard the fact that all these areas are at the moment, alas, interconnected in this beastly war.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Until Hanoi is willing to come to the conference table, will the right hon. Gentleman not urge on our allies any courses which would expose their troops, including the gallant Australian troops, to increased risks?

Mr. Brown

I repeat, what conversations I have, what advice we tender and what discussions we have with other countries must, and so long as I am here will, remain confidential.

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