HC Deb 15 May 1972 vol 837 cc9-10
4. Mr. Luce

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he is having with the United States Government about the Arab-Israeli dispute, prior to President Nixon's visit to Moscow.

Mr. Godber

The Arab-Israeli dispute was one of the questions which my right hon. Friend discussed with Mr. Rogers when he was here last week. The details of those discussions must of course remain confidential.

Mr. Luce

Despite their obvious preoccupation with Vietnam and other issues in Moscow, will my right hon. Friend urge President Nixon to raise this matter in Moscow in view of the heavy responsibilities of both America and Russia to exercise restraint in the Middle East? Does he accept that the most likely areas for progress are where there is the least contention? Will he therefore press President Nixon to raise particularly the question of the Suez Canal and Sinai in his discussions?

Mr. Godber

Yes. I should be surprised if this subject were not touched upon at some stage during the discussions in Moscow. I observe the points which my hon. Friend has raised about this matter. Her Majesty's Government are anxious to make progress in any way possible. If the Americans and the Russians in this forthcoming meeting are able to find some common ground they will find very ready acceptance from Her Majesty's Government and co-operation in trying to find a solution to this most difficult problem.

Mr. Kaufman

Since a major contribution towards the improvement of Arab-Israeli relations would be if the Syrians were to desist from torturing and harassing Jews in Syria, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to suggest to President Nixon that he should ask the Russians to use their considerable influence with the Syrians in dealing with this matter?

Mr. Godber

We have every sympathy with any attempt to prevent treatment such as that to which the hon. Gentleman refers. There are many problems concerning this matter not only in Syria, but elsewhere. We have made our position abundantly apparent. We deplore any action of the kind described by the hon. Gentleman. Wherever it occurs we would seek to discourage it in any way we possible can. That is abundantly clear from our statements.

Back to