HC Deb 09 June 1982 vol 25 cc196-7
6. Mr. Viggers

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the United States Secretary of State to discuss the situation in the South Atlantic.

Mr. Pym

I had very full discussions with Mr. Haig on the situation in the South Atlantic as well as on other matters of mutual interest during the Versailles economic summit and again during his visit to London with President Reagan. I shall see him again at the forthcoming NATO summit meeting, and I intend to remain in close touch with him.

Mr. Viggers

Will my right hon. Friend take an early opportunity to congratulate Mr. Haig on President Reagan's speech yesterday and to point out that there is no better place for the beginning of a crusade for freedom than in the South Atlantic, where the sovereign territory of a democracy has been attacked by a dictatorship? Does my right hon. Friend agree that at this critical point it is important that none of the discussions with the United States, with our allies, and with the United Nations should be allowed to impose any political inhibition on our forces?

Mr. Pym

I agree with the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. The Prime Minister and the Government have already thanked the President direct for the speech that he made yesterday. I assure my hon. Friend that no political inhibitions have been put on the military commanders in the field.

Mr. Healey

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that Mr. Haig made it clear to him that the United States would not feel able to participate in any international force to guarantee the security of the Falklands after repossession, nor would any Latin American country, except in the context of an agreement by Britain to negotiate on their future with the Argentine Government? As the right hon. Gentleman asserted his intention of supporting such negotiations in a television broadcast on 27 May, will he assure the House that the Government have not closed their mind to such negotiations?

Mr. Pym

Mr. Haig did not close the door on the possibility of what might be arranged in future. The future is, of course, unknown, and we cannot say with any precision what arrangements might be made. However, once the islands have been repossessed, it will be the Government's task to do whatever is appropriate, with as many friends as may be available to help us, to re-establish the islanders, who are going through a terrible time, to re-establish security on the islands and to bring about the greatest degree of stability that is possible in the shortest possible time. It is fair to say that the United States has not closed doors on possibilities that might be explored in future. I cannot go further than that at this stage.

Mr. Healey

Is it right that the United States, like Latin American Governments, has made it clear that it is prepared to support participation in a security force for protecting the islands after repossession only if Her Majesty's Government are prepared to negotiate the future of the islands with the Argentine Government? I put it to the right hon. Gentleman again that it is less than a fortnight since he committed himself to such negotiations. What has made him change his mind?

Mr. Pym

There is no commitment of that sort by the United States and there is no barring of any possible future actions. We must wait and see. We have discussed the possible circumstances that might arise after repossession has been achieved. Until that event takes place and we can see the precise circumstances in which it happens, I do not think that it is possible to go any further. I have made it clear throughout that, in the long term, there must be a settlement in the region if we are to have peace, which must be the precursor and prerequisite of prosperity. If reports are to be believed, during the past fortnight the Argentine forces on the islands have treated the islanders in a way that will cause a good deal of hostility. I am sure that they will feel like that. We shall have a more difficult situation to deal with after repossession than we would have had a fortnight ago. It remains true that at the end of the day there must be a settlement, however long and whatever form it may take, if there is to be prosperity in the region and for the islanders.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind the House that this issue will arise on a later question on the Order Paper.

Forward to