HC Deb 17 March 1969 vol 780 cc32-3
41. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the substance of his recent discussions with leaders of Arab States; and what conclusions were reached.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

My right hon. Friend's only recent discussions with Arab leaders have been those with Dr. Mahmoud Fawzi, Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs to the President of the United Arab Republic. The substance of these discussions is of course confidential.

Mr. Shinwell

Are we to understand that complete secrecy is to prevail and that the House is not to be informed about what is happening behind the scenes? Did it occur to my right hon. Friend—I am addressing my right hon. Friend now, not my hon. Friend—that in these discussions he might have suggested that the only possible approach to a solution of the Middle East problem is for both sides to meet across the table and negotiate and that he ought to suggest to the four Powers that, instead of seeking to impose conditions on the contending parties, they should initiate an attempt to bring pressure to bear on the contending parties to meet across the table?

Mr. Roberts

I am quite sure that the four-Power discussions will have very much in mind the latter part of my right hon. Friend's supplementary question. By the way, when he addressed me as his right hon. Friend I can assure him that as regards both the adjective and the noun he was quite correct. As to his first point, I suggest to him, as probably the most experienced Member of the House and a former Cabinet Minister of great distinction, that he quite understands that such discussions must be confidential.

Viscount Lambton

Was it stressed in these discussions with Dr. Fawzi that the British Government still believed that the Suez Canal should be open without discrimination to ships of all nations?

Mr. Roberts

Yes, indeed.

Mr. Mendelson

Will my right hon. Friend accept that the efforts of the Government in trying to get the four major Powers to help in the opening of negotiations between the parties involved are well understood and that there is confidence that the Government will ensure that the security of all States in the Middle East is fully safeguarded?

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