HC Deb 25 April 1984 vol 58 cc714-5
2. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

asked the Secretary of State Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Anglo-Jordanian relations.

3. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current state of Anglo-Jordanian relations.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Richard Luce)

We have excellent relations with Jordan. The successful state visit to Jordan last month demonstrated the close ties of friendship between our two countries. During the visit I had talks with King Hussein, Crown Prince Hassan and the Foreign Minister.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

Does my hon. Friend agree that the moderate and reasonable attitude of states such as Jordan and Egypt should be reinforced by Britain? Does he further agree that after the Israeli general election we could use their responsible positions as a basis for a new diplomatic initiative?

Mr. Luce

I agree that the stability of countries such as Jordan and Egypt is of great importance to the middle east and to us. If it turns out that King Hussein, supported by other moderate friends in the middle east, comes forward with constructive and sensible proposals which might help to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute, I am sure that we and the European Community will wish to give them every encouragement.

Mr. Bottomley

Does my hon. Friend accept that the stability and common sense shown by Jordan and its leaders over the years is greatly to be welcomed? Although we may not always see eye to eye on every issue, both this country and Jordan hope that there will be opportunities for progress in the middle east in which both countries can share.

Mr. Luce

I agree with my hon. Friend. The success of the state visit demonstrated not only the long-standing historic ties but the important close political and economic relationship that we have with Jordan.

Mr. Ernie Ross

Does the Minister agree that during her successful visit to Jordan Her Majesty was made aware of a serious impediment to any further Jordanian or other middle east peace proposals, namely, the continuing settlement policy of the Israeli Government? Unless the British and United States Governments impress upon the Israeli Government the fact that these settlements must end, there can be no further proposals from the Arab side.

Mr. Luce

It is self-evident that there can be no prospect of any start to a dialogue about this dispute unless the neighbouring Arab countries, the Palestinians and the Israelis are prepared to take part. It is important that during the next few months, with elections pending in Israel and elsewhere, the ground is prepared by the parties involved to ascertain whether in the foreseeable future—perhaps in the autumn—it will be possible to forge ahead with discussions about the resolution of their problems.

Mr. Walters

Does my hon. Friend agree that, given the American electoral frenzy, it is unlikely that there will be any sensible American initiative on the middle east in the coming year? Does that not make it more urgent that there should be a European initiative especially to prevent the continuing policy of settlements, which is illegal and provocative?

Mr. Luce

I agree with my hon. Friend that the fact that elections are taking place not only in the United States but in Israel hampers the prospect of any immediate move forward. I agree with my hon. Friend also that it is important that there should not be stagnation. On 27 March the European Community meeting of Foreign Ministers issued a statement giving strong support to those parties prepared to put forward constructive proposals based on two fundamental principles — the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and the right of Israel to exist within secure boundaries.

Mr. George Robertson

What is the Minister's reaction to the apparent desire by King Hussein to involve the Soviet Union in an ultimate middle east settlement? As no settlement in the middle east is possible without the assent of both the super powers, is this not a welcome and useful step towards realism?

Mr. Luce

The prerequisite of any progress is that the parties should agree among themselves that there is a basis for discussion. That is the most important first stage. Clearly, the United States and the Soviet Union have an interest in that part of the world, and it goes without saying that they must both play a constructive role in the longer term if there is to be a peaceful resolution of the problem.

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