HC Deb 04 May 1970 vol 801 cc30-2
37. Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the Middle East dispute between Israel and the Arab States so far as British interests are concerned.

44. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Comonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the Four-Power talks on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mr. M. Stewart

I made our views and our policy clear in the debate on 13th April, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary explained then the difficulties in the way of securing the release of British ships still in the Suez Canal. Since then the deputies of the permanent representatives of the four Powers have held meetings twice a week in New York. Their aim is to prepare a memorandum on the progress so far made by the four. —[Vol. 799, c. 1026–39.]

Mr. Moonman

I appreciate the efforts made by my right hon. Friend in the whole context of the Middle East dispute. Does he appreciate that perhaps some more challenging action might be taken, particularly in view of the enormous involvement of the Soviet Union in that area, with many millions of pounds of sophisticated weapons and many thousands of advisers or technicians? Would it not be suitable for my right hon. Friend to send perhaps a junior Minister to Cairo to see what possible areas of collaboration and cooperation might emerge from all this?

Mr. Stewart

I note what my hon. Friend says. We have kept in very close touch with all the Governments concerned.

Mr. Mayhew

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if Soviet pilots are flying over Egypt at least they are not bombing inhabitants? Will he represent to the Israeli Government the tendentious statements which aggravate relations between the Western countries and the Soviet Union do no good to any country in the long run?

Mr. Stewart

I have been deploring tendentious statements in every direction for some time. We have urged on all the Governments concerned the extreme unwisdom and danger of acts of violence by either side or of anything that escalates the conflict.

Mr. Amery

Is the Foreign Secretary yet in a position to tell the House how far, in his opinion and according to his information, the Soviets have taken over responsibility for Egyptian defence?

Mr. Stewart

That is another question.

Mr. Wood

Has the right hon. Gentleman been able to give further consideration to the suggestion of my right hon. Friend for the convening of a special conference?

Mr. Stewart

I am sorry, but I am not quite sure to what the right hon. Gentleman is referring. This was a special conference—

Mr. Wood

—under the Geneva Convention.

Mr. Stewart

I have considered this. I think that at present we ought to go on with the four-Power talks, in which we are making some, though unhappily very slow, progress.