HC Deb 13 March 1967 vol 743 cc35-6
34. Mr. A. Royle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will consider inviting Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia to make a State visit to the United Kingdom.

Mr. George Thomson

Recommendations for State guests are made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to Her Majesty The Queen and are under constant review.

Mr. Royle

I am grateful to the Minister of State for his reply. Does he not agree that, in view of the importance of Cambodia both geographically and economically in South-East Asia at the present time, he should give very careful consideration to advising Her Majesty to issue an invitation in the very near future?

Mr. Thomson

Yes, Sir. We attach very great importance to our good relations with Cambodia, and we were very glad that our diplomatic relationships were improved recently when our ambassador at Phnom Penh presented his credentials, and when the Cambodian Chargé d'Affaires arrived in London after an absence of some time. The hon. Member should also know that it was hoped that Prince Sihanouk would have been able to dine with Her Majesty while in France earlier this year and that it was only because of an unfortunate conflict of engagements that he was unable to accept the invitation.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a State visit, whatever its other merits, might be regarded rather badly by our allies in S.E.A.T.O., who might feel that the solidarity of the organisation was in some doubt?

Mr. Thomson

It is important that we take all steps we can to improve good relations with countries in that region, whether they are in alliances with which we are associated or not. Some useful steps have been taken. The question of a State visit has to be given very careful consideration along with many other matters. I would refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to the earlier cryptic Answer I gave.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that Her Majesty's Government do not accept the proposition that it is impossible for us to be friendly with people who are not friendly with our allies?

Mr. Thomson

My hon. Friend has put the point I was making very much more succinctly than I did.