HC Deb 21 March 1984 vol 56 cc1031-2
1. Mr. Latham

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has yet fixed a date for his proposed visit to Israel.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Geoffrey Howe)

It has not yet been possible to find a mutually convenient date, but I am looking forward to a visit as soon as that proves practicable.

Mr. Latham

When my right hon. and learned Friend, who personally has greatly improved Anglo-Israeli relationships recently, visits Israel, will he assure his Israeli hosts—whether before or after their general election—that Britain is totally committed to the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the Lebanon and to the territorial integrity of all states in the region?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I am certainly in a position to do that.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that now that American policy in the Lebanon has failed the time may be appropriate for a separate European initiative on the middle east, perhaps on the lines of the original Venice declaration, to ensure secure boundaries for Israel and a homeland for the Palestinians?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The principles set out in the original Venice declaration remain valid, and it is important for the views of European countries and of the United Kingdom to be made clear along those lines. Nevertheless, the fact remains that it is essentially for the parties in the region to find the means of conducting the necessary negotiations between themselves.

Mr. Lawrence

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that his proposed visit to Israel will be welcomed as an even-handed and friendly gesture? Will he also bear in mind that there is a widespread feeling that there have been enough initiatives on the middle east and that the Venice initiative, which dealt the death knell to the Camp David agreement, and the withdrawal of the agreement between Israel and Lebanon, have done little to inspire the Israelis with any confidence in the outcome of negotiated peace settlements?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I appreciate that there are many circumstances in which the various parties involved may sometimes have little confidence in the prospects for peaceful negotiations, but the fact remains that means have to be found to bring together the two sides in an effort to arrive at agreements on terms that are acceptable to both.

Mr. Janner

As a prelude to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's visit, will he discuss with First Deputy Foreign Minister Kornienko next week the thoroughly destructive role that the Soviet Union has played in the middle east? Will he try to get Mr. Kornienko to agree that the Russians will use their considerable influence in Syria to induce that country to leave Lebanon so that all other foreign troops may leave also, as they have agreed to do?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I do not expect to have the opportunity to meet First Deputy Foreign Minister Kornienko next week. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) will be talking to him, and I have no doubt that he will take the opportunity to follow up the reference to middle eastern questions that I made in my talk with Mr. Gromyko at Stockholm in January. No doubt the role and part that can be played by Syria will be one of the questions that will arise there.


Sir Geoffrey Howe

Perhaps I may make it clear to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) that I shall not myself be seeing Mr. Kornienko, because I have long-standing plans which will take me out of the country while he is here.

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