HC Deb 02 February 1970 vol 795 cc4-7
6. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the Middle East situation.

Mr. M. Stewart

Her Majesty's Government are continuing to play a full part in the Four Power talks whose aim is to devise as soon as possible fresh guidance for Dr. Jarring. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary told my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) on 21st January, I believe that the early resumption of Dr. Jarring's mission provides the best hope for progress.—[Vol. 794, c. 152–3.]

Mr. Marten

What discussions did the Foreign Secretary have on the Middle East in Washington last week, and what views were expressed about the Russian proposals for a settlement in the Middle East?

Mr. Stewart

I think the hon. Member understands that conversations of this kind are confidential. What we firmly believe, and what our American allies believe, is that the Security Council resolution provides the proper basis for progress. We are endeavouring on that basis to work out instructions which will enable Dr. Jarring to resume his work.

Mr. George Brown

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is no real connection between the Security Council resolution and the Four Power discussions? Is he further aware that there is no country in the Middle East—neither Israel nor the Arab countries—which has any regard for or faith in the Four Power discussions. Would he, therefore, please try to get Dr. Jarring back to operating Security Council Resolution 242?

Mr. Stewart

I agree with my right hon. Friend to this extent, that the Security Council Resolution has got to be the basis of any settlement, and that the best available instrument for that purpose is consultation between Dr. Jarring and the parties concerned. I would not accept what he said about the Four Power talks. We found earlier that Dr. Jarring was able to make very little progress. What I hope is that out of the Four Power talks will come such measure of agreement as will enable Dr. Jarring to resume his work between the parties concerned.

Mr. Wood

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he proposes to announce and to have discussed in the House of Commons the precise proposals which the Government have to try to bring to an end a situation which is becoming very dangerous?

Mr. Stewart

I do not think I can give an answer to that. We have got to work with the other three of the Four Powers and see where we can get.

Mr. George Brown

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, to intervene again, as I do only by your graciousness, but will my right hon. Friend please take it from me that there is no Power in the Middle East willing to accept the Four Power discussions, that Russia has no interest whatever in helping? Will he, therefore, please persuade his colleagues to drop this nonsense and get back to the Security Council resolution and get Dr. Jarring in business on that basis?

Mr. Stewart

This is exactly what we want to do, but this is a Security Council resolution and the four permanent members of the Security Council have a special responsibility in this field. I do not think that I could accept my right hon. Friend's view that no Power in the Middle East has any regard for the Four Power discussions. I think we have all been disappointed both at the slow progress made by Dr. Jarring earlier and then the difficulties of the Four Power discussions. I believe our present task is, through the Four Powers, and with the help of Dr. Jarring, to try to turn the Security Council resolution into a practical programme of action which all the parties would be prepared to implement.

34. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now consult with the United Kingdom's allies in Europe, with a view to proposing a European guarantee for any settlement in the Middle East.

Mr. M. Stewart

We shall of course continue to consult with our European allies on foreign policy questions. But I see no advantage in initiating consultations on the basis proposed, at least for the present.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

In view of the widespread support which this proposal has had at the Western European Union Assembly for a number of years, will not the right hon. Gentleman take action which will encourage those in the Middle East who want to find a peaceful settlement?

Mr. Stewart

It may be that this idea will be helpful later, but what we must try to do is to make progress, as I said earlier, through the four Power talks and through Dr. Jarring first.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, last week, hon. Members on both sides of the House heard first-hand evidence from people who had been the hostages of Egypt, Syria and Iraq and had been tortured and otherwise maltreated by those three countries? Will he undertake to ensure that any such agreement takes this sort of practice into account?

Mr. Stewart

I sympathise with my hon. Friend's feelings, but what he has said goes further than this Question.

Mr. Lane

Arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's original answer, can he assure us that when the French Foreign Minister visited London the other day Her Majesty's Government made cautionary representations to him about the sale of military aircraft to Libya?

Mr. Stewart

I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that conversations of this type are always confidential. But we are trying with the French Government and with the other two of the Four Powers to reach an agreed solution.

Mr. Mayhew

Will my right hon. Friend agree that Israel is entitled to the maximum security on her old frontiers in the event of a settlement? Is he aware that the conception that an international force could include British and French contingents would not be resisted by the Arab Governments?

Mr. Stewart

This might prove to be so. However, our first task is to try to reach a settlement on the basis of the Security Council resolution.

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