HC Deb 07 November 1973 vol 863 cc974-6
5. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the East-West talks on the reduction of military forces which opened in Vienna on 30th October.

30. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the talks in Vienna for military force reductions.

Mr. Amery

Negotiations on the mutual reduction of forces and armaments and associated measures in Central Europe opened in Vienna on 30th October.

The first two plenary meetings were devoted to opening statements.

A copy of the opening statement made by the Head of the British delegation has been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Allaun

Will the Government support the American proposal to scale down their forces in Europe if Russia does the same, and shall we act similarly? Secondly, instead of expressing horror at the proposal of the United States Congress unilaterally to scale down its forces in Europe, should we not welcome it as a great opportunity for other countries also to save their resources, from which we, the Russians and other countries would all benefit enormously?

Mr. Amery

As I understand the situation, the opening proposal is that the Americans and the Soviets would consider reductions on their part not involving our own or other European forces, and this is, I think, the right way to approach the problem. I should be very reluctant to give any encouragement or endorsement to unilateral American reductions. The Russians are in overwhelming strength in Eastern Europe, and any unilateral reduction, whether by the Americans or anyone else on our side of the dividing line, could only strengthen the option open to the Russians to make use of their military strength for political or, indeed, military purposes.

Mr. Maclennan

Will the Minister go further and admit that the security of the Western Alliance depends upon the reductions being balanced. Will he therefore represent to the American Secretary of State, Dr. Kissinger, that some of the wilder statements which he made last week, while under pressure in the disputes that he has had over the Middle East, do not advance the cause of the balanced reduction of forces which we want to see take place?

Mr. Amery

I think it is well understood between the Americans and ourselves that any reductions to preserve the existing balance would have to be asymmetrical and not symmetrical, as I tried to explain when I spoke in the House last Wednesday. I think that is well understood on the American side, and we are of course in constant daily contact with the American delegation at the Vienna talks

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