HC Deb 11 May 1983 vol 42 cc779-80
15. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the middle east.

Mr. Pym

Mr. Shultz's success in securing an agreement in principle between Israel and Lebanon is very welcome progress. I hope that the other parties concerned will also now agree to an early withdrawal of their forces from Lebanon.

I remain acutely concerned at the lack of progress towards a wider Arab-Israeli peace settlement. President Reagan's proposals still offer the most realistic starting point for negotiations, but a major effort will be needed from all concerned if the present highly dangerous stalemate is to be broken.

Mr. Townsend

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. Is he aware that, so long after the signing of the Camp David accord, there are still about 28 Egyptian civilians being held as prisoners of war in Israel? Will he keep a close eye on the fate of civilians and military personnel in Israeli hands in the Ansar camp, and generally in South Lebanon and Israel, try to ameliorate their conditions, and press for instant release?

Mr. Pym

My purpose is to endeavour to do whatever I can in that direction.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Will the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues answer properly the question put by the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) about the supplying of component parts to the participants in the Iran-Iraq war? Does the rather opaque reply mean that we are supplying component parts? What is the difference between supplying lethal weapons and supplying component parts to enable the weapons to be used?

Mr. Pym

No illegal equipment is being sold to Iran.

Sir Hugh Fraser

I welcome my right hon. Friend's regard for the new agreement between America, Israel and the Lebanon, but is it not time that the House and the Foreign Office gave more praise to Israel for having settled a difficult problem and turned to the main obstruction to peace, which is the Syrian Government?

Mr. Pym

A substantial advance has been achieved, as I have said, and it is excellent that Lebanon and Israel have agreed to the new arrangement. We now want to see that the arrangement is put into practice and carried out as soon as it possibly can be, because that is the best way to establish a free and independent Lebanon.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall allow a minute extra at the end of questions on the EC so as to allow in the Opposition Front Bench on this question.

Mr. Clinton Davis

What direct representations has the Foreign Secretary made, or does he contemplate making, to the Syrian Government in view of their implacable hostility to the concept of withdrawing simultaneously with the Israelis?

Mr. Pym

I met the Syrian Foreign Minister in March, when he was here with the Arab League delegation, and I have been in touch with him since. He knows our views, and the hon. Gentleman and House will know that the Syrians are taking a hard line on this issue. However, it is our hope, as it is of the Secretary of State of the United States, that we shall secure an agreement with Syria so that the withdrawal that everybody wants can begin to take place.