HC Deb 25 April 1972 vol 835 cc1273-4
Q8. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Prime Minister what representations he has made to President Nixon about the war in Vietnam, in view of Great Britain's co-chairmanship of the Geneva Conference.

The Prime Minister

I have made no representations to President Nixon. In our capacity as co-Chairman we suggested to the Russians that the Geneva Conference should be reconvened. Regrettably the Russians have replied that they do not consider this practicable.

Mr. Huckfield

Does the Prime Minister's comparative reticence mean that he is primarily interested in getting President Nixon re-elected or in securing peace in Vietnam? Does he not realise that the escalation of the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong will lead to the most serious confrontation with the Soviet Union since Cuba? Is not the best possible advice he can give to President Nixon to get out before it is too late?

The Prime Minister

That is exactly the same supplementary question as the hon. Gentleman asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs yesterday. As he was told then, our responsibility as co-Chairman is to try to get the other co-Chairman, Mr. Gromyko, to agree to the Geneva Conference being reconvened. This is not the only occasion on which we have asked him to do so, but on each occasion he has flatly refused, and this I regret.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Does not the flagrant invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnam now prove to any reasonable, fair-minded person how right the Americans have been in what they are trying to achieve in Vietnam?

The Prime Minister

President Nixon made it plan that, as American forces were being withdrawn, if North Vietnamese forces launched a major attack, he would be bound to take action to protect the final withdrawal of United States forces. This surely is an attitude to be respected.