HC Deb 04 July 1973 vol 859 cc507-8
3. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek an early meeting with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Ai-fairs (Lord Balniel)

President Bhutto, who is of course his own Foreign Minister, would always be welcome in this country, but there are as vet no firm arrangements for a visit. My right hon. Friend had a useful meeting with Mr. Aziz Ahmed, the Pakistan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence, during the CENTO meeting in Teheran last month.

Mr. Mitchell

When. the Foreign Secretary meets President Bhutto will lie make representations to him about the number of Bengalis in preventive detention in Pakistan, several of whom have British wives who are living in this country with their families?

Lord Balniel

The Indo-Bangladesh joint declaration of 17th April proposed, among other things, that those Bengalis in Pakistan who wished to return to Bangladesh should be allowed to do so. Although the Pakistan Government have expressed some reservations about the proposals in the joint declaration, exchanges of messages are taking place between the Indian and Pakistan Governments.

Mr. Wilkinson

May I remind my right hon Friend that the communiqué issued at the conclusion of the Teheran Conference reaffirmed support for Resolution No. 307, passed by the Security Council on 21st December 1971, which, inter alia. called for the return of Pakistani prisoners-of-war as part of an overall settlement in the sub-continent?

Lord Balniel

My hon. Friend will know that all the leaders in the sub-continent have made it plain that they do not want outside mediation and intend to settle their differences between themselves. I am sure that that is right, but we are ready to help if it appears that we can usefully do so at the wish of the parties concerned.