HC Deb 21 March 1984 vol 56 cc1033-4
4. Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's relations with Costa Rica.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Ray Whitney)

We enjoy very good relations with Costa Rica, whose democratic system is widely admired.

Mr. Parry

I thank the Minister for his reply. Will he tell the House whether he supports the United States arming those counter-revolutionaries based in Costa Rica who attack targets in Nicaragua?

Mr. Whitney

The United States has no military or paramilitary forces in Costa Rica. We support every effort to put an end to violence in that region.

Mr. Bottomley

I welcome my hon. Friend's indication of the democratic nature of Costa Rica. Is it the Government's policy to encourage elections in Nicaragua and El Salvador in which all serious opposition parties take part?

Mr. Whitney

Certainly we encourage the promotion of democracy in those countries, and indeed in all the region. My hon. Friend will have noticed our decision to send observers in response to the invitation to examine the conduct of the various elections in El Salvador.

Mr. Johnstone

Given that Costa Rica has a long, and in Central America one might say unique, record of liberal democracy, will the Minister review the Government's policy towards that country with a view to giving it any assistance that it may require, and will he say what assistance the Government now provide?

Mr. Whitney

The hon. Gentleman will understand that we have to look very carefully at the disbursement of our aid, and normally aid for that region would be considered through the agency of the European Community.

Mr. McCrindle

Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the level of our representation in Costa Rica? Is it the Government's policy to continue to represent themselves in neighbouring Nicaragua from the Costa Rican embassy, or are there any moves afoot towards the, some would think desirable, restoration of diplomatic relations between this country and El Salvador and Nicaragua on a direct basis?

Mr. Whitney

I am pleased to advise the House, as, indeed, we advised the House a few days ago in a written answer, that we have decided to open missions at chargé d'affaires level in El Salvador and in Nicaragua.

Mr. Anderson

The Government will know that we have long pressed for that change, and we welcome without reservation the upgrading of our diplomatic representation in Managua,—[HON. MEMBERS: "And in El Salvador."]—and, indeed, in El Salvador, but it so happens that Nicaragua is Costa Rica's neighbour and El Salvador is not. Do the Government now accept that the Sandanista regime in Nicaragua enjoys overwhelming popular support and that attempts by the CIA to destabilise that country, such as by mining the Soviet tanker bringing supplies to Puerto Sandino, are doomed and are a real threat to peace?

Mr. Whitney

We are unable and unwilling to take the one-sided approach reflected in the hon. Gentleman's question. When a free and fair election has been held in Nicaragua, I suggest to the House that that would be the time to make a new judgment on whether that regime commands full support in that country.

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