HC Deb 18 November 1968 vol 773 c880
14. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposal he has put forward since the Soviet occupation of Czecho-slovakia to strengthen the treaty arrangements in the Persian Gulf; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

No such strengthening is required. The deplorable invasion of Czechoslovakia is a grave setback to détente in international affairs but has no immediate bearing on the factors which led to Her Majesty's Government's decision to withdraw our military presence and terminate the existing treaty relationships by the end of 1971.

Mr. Ridsdale

Are we not creating a vacuum in the Persian Gulf? What discussions are the Government having with our allies, including the United States and our Continental allies, with regard to strengthening our position east of Suez and helping us to prevent a vacuum being created there?

Mr. Roberts

I do not agree that a vacuum will be created. We have until the end of 1971 to strengthen the States in the area and help them, if they require our help, to create a strong and viable union. Their safety, stability and peace are best maintained not by our military presence there indefinitely, but by their own independence resting on the good will of their neighbours, some of which are very powerful.

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