HC Deb 15 April 1969 vol 781 cc982-4
Q2. Mr. Henig

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to the Middle East.

Q6. Mr. Hamling

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he has now had with Heads of Government with a view to bringing about a settlement in the Middle East.

The Prime Minister

I have no plans to visit the Middle East at present. Since the beginning of this year I have discussed the Middle East situation with a number of Heads of Governments, including President Nixon, King Hussein, and Chancellor Kiesinger, and during the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in January and with senior representatives of Middle East states below Head of Government level.

Mr. Henig

Can the Prime Minister say at what point in the Big Four talks now going on the various parties to the Middle East conflict will be consulted? Whilst recognising that those parties will have to make some concessions in the interests of peace, may I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm that there is no question of dictation on one side or the other?

The Prime Minister

On the first part of the question, I think that my hon. Friend can assume that the four nations involved in these very important talks at the United Nations are very fully apprised of the position of the various Middle East countries concerned and that there are facilities for continuing contact to deal with any changes in the situation.

The answer to the second part is that there is certainly no question of dictation. The purpose of the four-Power talks is to strengthen the initiatives taken by Dr. Jarring over the past year and a half since our Resolution at the United Nations and to bring these initiatives to fruition.

Mr. Hamling

Does the Prime Minister agree that one of the difficulties of the United Nations' observers in all this, and the United Nations, is the failure of some of the great Powers of the world to support the United Nations in this area?

The Prime Minister

We made very clear our attitude to the treatment of the United Nations' observers at that critical time just before the Middle East war of 1967 began. We shall be ready, and I am sure that other great Powers will be ready, to give full support to the United Nations' observers, recognising the difficult task that they now have in seeking to prevent outbreaks of fighting and the even more difficult task that they might have to police any settlement which comes out of the four-Power talks and the negotiations between the States concerned.

Sir C. Osborne

As the Soviet Union is likely to be the greatest influence in preserving peace in the Middle East, is the right hon. Gentleman in close touch with Moscow on this issue?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we welcomed the initiative of the Soviet Government about bilateral talks and four-Power talks. We are in close touch with them, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has maintained close contact with the embassy in this country, and I have exchanged messages with Mr. Kosygin.

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