HC Deb 09 April 1968 vol 762 cc1075-7
Q5. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from the National Liberation Front in Vietnam on matters for which this country is responsible as co-Chairman of the Geneva Agreement.

The Prime Minister

None directly, Sir, though we are, of course, in touch with our Soviet co-Chairman who in turn is in touch with the National Liberation Front.

Mr. Fraser

While recognising the delicate state of negotiations at present, will my right hon. Friend accept the widely held view that communications and agreement with indigenous political movements in South Vietnam are essential to a lasting political settlement?

The Prime Minister

In all my own discussions with Mr. Kosygin I have had very clear evidence that he was in very close touch throughout those talks with the National Liberation Front, as well as with Hanoi. I have no reason to think that that has not been continuous ever since.

Viscount Lambton

Will the Prime Minister repeat what he previously said, that if it is in the general interest, he will certainly try to call for the reconvening of the Geneva Conference?

The Prime Minister

Yes, certainly. As the noble Lord knows, we have called for this very many times over the last three years. As he will know, the Soviet Government, while accepting its responsibilities as co-Chairman, in the communiqué, feels that the idea of a conference convened by the co-Chairmen at Geneva should follow and not precede agreement between the parties who are now in touch with one another. That is the way in which they would like it handled. We would be ready to do that or to co-operate in any other way in helping the parties concerned with their negotiations.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will the Prime Minister press the President to remember that the North Vietnamese position is that peace talks will start, when and only when, the bombing of their country is ended unconditionally?

The Prime Minister

The President is well aware of the successive statements that have been made by leading figures in Hanoi and by representatives from Hanoi to everyone who has ever met with them, as my hon. Friend has done. He will also be aware that as a result of the President's initiative there has been a further look at this matter by Hanoi.

I do not underestimate the difficulties or want to exaggerate hopes at this stage. As a result of the large number of contacts, because many countries have been labouring in this vineyard for a considerable period of time, there has been some slight movement closer together. There was a very big movement at the time of San Antonio, by the President of the United States, and there has been a successive slight movement by Hanoi. We must now hope that the contacts that have been established will be productive.

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