HC Deb 11 May 1983 vol 42 cc770-2
7. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what subjects he expects to discuss at his next meeting with representatives of the Government of the United States of America.

Mr. Pym

I shall have an opportunity to meet members of the American Administration on a number of occasions in the next few months. The topics to be discussed will naturally depend on the forum and the circumstances at the time, but I expect that they will include East-West relations, arms control, the middle east, the world economy and matters affecting our bilateral trade.

Mr. Canavan

If the Secretary of State gets the chance to meet representatives of the United States Government before he is sacked by the British people on 9 June, will he tell President Reagan that an increasing number of people in Britain and elsewhere are utterly opposed to the intervention of the United States Government in the affairs of Central American independent states, especially to the continuing supply of arms to the Government of El Salvador and the CIA-inspired plot to invade and destabilise Nicaragua?

Mr. Pym

The hon. Gentleman speaks for himself. I have discussed the subject with the Secretary of State. The Government support the United States Government's objectives in Central America.

Mr. Ward

Early in the next Parliament, when my right hon. Friend will have the opportunity to meet United States representatives on behalf of the British Government, will he suggest that one of the best contributions that the United States can make to peace in the middle east is to stop the supply of all arms to Israel until it stops colonising the West Bank?

Mr. Pym

My hon. Friend's latter point is a matter for the United States and its relationship with Israel. I have made clear to the United States the British Government's view on this difficult and drawn-out dispute. We are extremely pleased that Secretary of State Shultz achieved agreement a few days ago. We must hope that, in the near future, that will develop into the withdrawal that was there negotiated. As for the rest, I remain anxious about the way in which negotiations are going in the middle east, but when there is progress such as we saw a few days ago, we are thankful. We must build on it to achieve a better outcome in the future.

Mr. Anderson

Having dithered over the date of the general election, why is the Prime Minister now dithering about attendance at Williamsburg? Is she prepared to be the only head of a Western Government who will not be at Williamsburg? If she refuses to go, is the Secretary of State aware that the Opposition are ready to substitute for her?

Mr. Pym

That is a subject that I have not discussed with the Secretary of State. In view of her decision about the general election, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will come to a conclusion about Williamsburg in the fairly near future.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, although the Government welcome the concept of parity in warheads in the INF negotiations, which has been broadly welcomed by the United States Administration, he will make it clear to the United States Administration yet again that he, on behalf of the British Government, like the French Government, does not regard British strategic nuclear forces as negotiable.

Mr. Pym

I agree with my hon. Friend's latter point. Although I have explained several times in public and, I think, in the House that in certain circumstances we would be prepared to consider that matter again, we are not so prepared in present circumstances. On my hon. Friend's first point, the Kremlin's decision to talk in terms of warhead numbers is a move for which NATO has been arguing for a long time. To that extent I welcome that statement, but there are other elements in it that are quite unacceptable.

Mr. Deakins

In view of that answer, will the Foreign Secretary make it clear to the American Administration that we are prepared, if necessary, to avoid a hold-up in the INF negotiations in Geneva and START, to offer our strategic weapons as part of the balance that must be considered in those multilateral disarmament negotiations?

Mr. Pym

No, Sir, and there is no hold-up in either of those important disarmament talks. Indeed, the most far-reaching suggestions have come from the Alliance in both the INF negotiations and START. If progress is made there and there are clear signs that, far from a sustained build-up of nuclear and conventional military equipment in the Soviet Union, they pursue a policy of genuine reduction of arms on both sides, especially between the two super powers, the British Government would be prepared to reconsider their stance. However, it is clear from the rigid and sustained no that we get from Moscow in both talks that we are some way away for that.

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