HC Deb 17 July 1974 vol 877 cc436-7
29. Mr. Luce

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to hold coordinated discussions with the EEC Foreign Ministers on the Middle East.

Mr. Hattersley

At a meeting in Bonn on 10th June my right hon. Friend and his colleagues approved proposals for a dialogue with the Arabs elaborated in the political co-operation machinery of the Nine. These proposals envisage the development of economic and technical co-operation between the Europeans and the Arabs, whether or not they are producers of oil.

Mr. Luce

May I take it that the Minister feels that we are more likely to influence progress towards peace in the Middle East by means of a concerted European approach than by acting on our own? Will he say what action the Common Market Powers, as well as the British Government, are taking to influence those Powers taking part in the Geneva Conference on the Middle East towards a European viewpoint?

Mr. Hattersley

No. I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstands the intention of the European-Arab dialogue. The intention is to consider a number of mutually important matters concerning, for example, industry, agriculture, raw materials and transport. The dialogue is not concerned with the establishment of a peace settlement, which might in some ways cut across the initiative of Dr. Kissinger. Indeed, when my right hon. Friend gave his approval to the extension of the dialogue, he was specific that nothing done by the Nine should in any way prejudice other peace negotiations. That must remain our policy.

Mr. Faulds

Does my hon. Friend agree that the dialogue must not depend to any degree on the compliance or consent of the United States of America?

Mr. Hattersley

I think that my hon. Friend describes attitudes in this instance in unnecessarily crude terms. Clearly, there must be a proper partnership between the EEC and the United States of America in matters of mutual interest. Clearly, there must be a proper relationship between Members of the EEC. I do not think that a matter of prevention or exclusion comes into such negotiations.

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