HC Deb 17 November 1969 vol 791 c848
34. Mr. Rose

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he proposes to take following the unilateral cancellation of Great Britain's right to bases in Libya.

Mr. M. Stewart

The Libyan Government asked on 29th October that we should enter into negotiations with them for the early evacuation of our forces from Libya. We informed the Libyan Government on 13th November that we hoped to establish a new relationship of co-operation on a different basis from that of the Anglo-Libyan Treaty of 1953 and that we are, therefore, willing to open negotiations to this end immediately.

Mr. Rose

In view of the instability of military dictatorships and feudal sheikdoms in that area, will my right hon. Friend be influenced less by sterling balances and oil and more by the moral obligation to the only democratic State in that area, which faces genocide?

Mr. Stewart

I take it that my hon. Friend is referring to the question of arms supplies in the Middle East. I would refer him to what I have said earlier about this, that it is not our practice to reveal details of specific transactions. We judge particular requests from the Middle East on their merits, and I explained to the House on 30th October what I mean by that phrase. That policy applies to the sale of arms and military relations with Libya and other countries in the Middle East.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the general wish is to have the best possible relations with the new régime in Libya? At the same time, will he also acknowledge the nearly 30 years of mutually beneficial co-operation we had with the old régime. particularly in the war years?

Mr. Stewart

I certainly acknowledge the fruitful co-operation there was in the past. I think that it is important, as I said in my original reply, to get a satisfactory new relationship now.