HC Deb 27 June 1967 vol 749 cc251-3
Q3. Mr. Winnick

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he has had with the leaders of other countries over the Arab-Israel war.

The Prime Minister

I have had meetings in their own countries with the Prime Minister of Canada, the President of the United States and the President of France; and in London with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, the Prime Ministers of Malawi, Australia, Singapore and Italy and the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand. In addition, I have had personal exchanges with the President of Pakistan, the President of Tunisia, the Prime Ministers of the U.S.S.R., India and Israel, and, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary explained to the House yesterday, while he was in New York he had discussions with the Heads of Government or Foreign Ministers of most of the countries directly or indirectly involved.

Mr. Winnick

What effective international action can be taken to help the new wave of Arab refugees? Is my right hon. Friend aware of the tremendous concern at their suffering and hardship—the same sort of concern as was expressed a few weeks ago by many people about Israel's existence?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, and I think that we have all expressed this concern. In the very week of the fighting, in a speech in the country, I said that this was one of the things which must be dealt with in a permanent settlement, and, as was shown by my right hon. Friend's speech in New York and his answers yesterday, all of us attach the same importance to this as does my hon. Friend.

Mr. Hastings

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that all these discussions upon which he has elaborated and those which the Foreign Secretary had with these various nations have had the slightest effect on anything at all during the course of these debates?

The Prime Minister

If it were the hon. Gentleman's policy that we should avoid all discussions of international affairs, I should be very surprised. It is necessary, in view of the vitally important and difficult discussions at the United Nations, that we should keep in close touch with our colleagues and I thought that it was the view of all hon. Members when we debated the Middle East before the trouble began that we should have the closest liaison with the Commonwealth on this question.

Mr. Bellenger

What will be the procedure, the methods and machinery, for getting the permanent settlement about which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary talked yesterday? He gave the impression that it would be settled in the Security Council. May we know what is to be done?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said. It is, of course, impossible at this stage to forecast even the result of the General Assembly Resolution, as we do not know what Resolution will be moved or its effect, and it will probably have to come back to the Security Council, as my right hon. Friend said. He made one suggestion about a senior representative of the Secretary-General going out to the Middle East aid trying to reconcile these differences. Other suggestions, such as four-Power talks, may become desirable at the last moment. President de Gaulle and I felt last week that the right moment had not come for pushing that matter.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Have the right hon. Gentleman's extensive consultations taken fully into account the urgent need for the reopening of the Suez Canal, and would he make a statement on that?

The Prime Minister

This is one of the things with which we have been dealing, and it is of particular concern to the Indian Government, because of the many food cargoes to India, where there is acute food shortage and even, in some areas, famine conditions. This has been one of our arguments, but I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said yesterday about the present situation.

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