HC Deb 25 July 1973 vol 860 cc1604-5
17. Mr. Kaufman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the advice given by Her Majesty's Government to Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret with regard to her forthcoming visit to Egypt.

Lord Balniel

Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret is visiting Egypt at the request of Her Majesty's Government in order to open a new British Council building in Cairo.

Mr. Kaufman

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that in 1971 the Prime Minister of Jordan was assassinated in Egypt, and that his assassins, after kneeling to drink his blood, were housed in luxury by the Egyptian Government before being returned in safety to their henchmen in the Lebanon? Recalling the events of the past week and taking account of the inability of the Egyptian Government to guarantee the safety of their guests, is it fair to ask Princess Margaret to involve herself in this kind of risk?

Lord Balniel

The security situation will be kept under review. We have every confidence that the Egyptian Government will ensure that Princess Margaret is given adequate protection throughout her visit.

Mr. Kilfedder

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that President Sadat has serious difficulties in Egypt, but is none the less striving to bring peace to that region? Will my right hon. Friend offer his good offices to bring some sort of reconciliation between Egypt and Israel?

Lord Balniel

My hon. Friend will know that a debate in the United Nations is now proceeding on the subject of the Middle East. In general we, the Egyptian Government, and, I hope, Opposition Members, place great importance on the establishment and re-establishment of the close cultural relations between this country and Egypt that we had in the past. We believe that the restoration of an independent British Council in Egypt after 16 years is of considerable importance, and I hope that the visit will be successful.