HC Deb 28 May 1968 vol 765 cc1530-1
Q2. Mr. John Fraser

asked the Prime Minister how he proposes that the United Kingdom, as a joint Chairman of the Geneva Agreement, should be represented at the Vietnam peace talks in Paris or elsewhere.

The Prime Minister

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answers I gave to Questions on 7th May.—[Vol. 764, c. 206–8.]

Mr. Fraser

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Foreign Secretary's discussions in Moscow are likely to bear fruit on this? Does he agree that representatives of the co-Chairmen in Paris acting for the people of Vietnam are more likely to bring hope of a lasting political settlement than a stale military armistice?

The Prime Minister

I think the position is as I stated on 7th May. My right hon. Friend's talks in Moscow last week confirm that both co-Chairmen are ready to give whatever help they can when that is the wish of both parties in Paris. I do not think there is a clear desire from those two parties that there should be a co-Chairmen initiative at this stage.

Sir C. Osborne

Is the Prime Minister aware that last night in Moscow it was stated to the delegation there that the trouble lay completely at the doors of the American Government? Was not the Foreign Secretary successful in his talks in Moscow last week in at least removing part of that impression which they hold so firmly?

The Prime Minister

This has been the consistent position of the Soviet Government throughout the Vietnamese dispute. The hon. Member will remember that this was part of the very tough speech made in London by Mr. Kosygin when he was here. That has not prevented the British and Soviet Governments from getting together to help to bring the parties to the conference table. That was the position on all the recent visits to Moscow and visits here by the Soviet leaders.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Does my right hon. Friend recall that when the United States were left to negotiate alone with the North Koreans at Panmunjon on a matter of interest to all nations the result was two years of war which might have been avoided and the true formula was ultimately found in a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly moved and drafted by Sir Anthony Eden?

The Prime Minister

The fact that negotiations took two years is not necessarily a reflection on one side only. It takes two sides to reach agreement. The United Nations, of course, was accepted as having a status in that matter because United Nations troops were in Korea but the North Vietnam Government and the Soviet Government have consistently rejected any suggestion that the United Nations has any rôle to play in the Vietnamese dispute.