HC Deb 09 April 1986 vol 95 cc157-9
10. Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is planning further consultations with the front-line states about the future of Namibia.

Mrs. Chalker

We remain in touch with front-line states individually on this and other questions.

The last occasion when Namibia was discussed was when my right hon. and learned Friend went to Lusaka for the meeting between the European Community and frontline states.

Mr. Colvin

Has not the time come for Britain to take the initiative in trying to break the deadlock over Namibia? What is my hon. Friend's response to the call for a constitutional conference, to be convened by Britain and attended by all the political parties in Namibia, to try to decide on the best way to implement United Nations resolution 435?

Mrs. Chalker

We remain committed to Security Council resolution 435, which is the internationally agreed basis for a Namibian settlement. I understand the frustration felt because of the lack of progress, but I am convinced that the only real solution to the problems of Namibia lies in the territory being brought to internationally acceptable independence through the early implementation of the United Nations plan. We urgently need, not so much a conference to discuss the implementation of the United Nations plan, as the agreement of the South Africans to fulfil without further delay or precondition their formal commitment to Security Council resolution 435.

I am listening carefully to all that is said on the issue, so that we may have some influence in a positive outcome.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Can my hon. Friend confirm that under its present Administration Namibia is now free of apartheid?

Mrs. Chalker

I wish that I could confirm that that was true, but unfortunately as yet there is no Namibian legislation to end the key features of racial discrimination. I understand that something now occurring in Namibia may bring that about, but it is not yet in legislation. I must wait to see any legislation before I can answer my hon. Friend in the way that I would like to do.

Mr. George Robertson

Is the Minister aware of how important will be the United States role in any final settlement of the Namibian problem? What future is there for the idea of a concerted engagement while the United States is giving to Unita forces Stinger missiles that will be used against the legal Government of Angola? Does that not destroy any possibility of the United States having any influence in achieving the solution that we all want?

Mrs. Chalker

I understand the hon. Gentleman's frustration. Although I do not share all his views, he knows from our discussions that there is grave anxiety about the interconnections between Angola and Namibia. On another plane, the United States Administration has been making strenuous efforts to be more positive in trying to bring about the implementation of Security Council resolution 435 in Namibia. However, that does not excuse them for the position in which they now find themselves. We must watch the position with great care and try to influence what is happening.

Mr. Cockeram

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind Britain's historic role in that part of Africa, which places us in a unique position to give a lead?

Is it not a matter of regret that Foreign Office Ministers decided not to meet two leading statesmen from Namibia when they visited London recently?

Mrs. Chalker

I understand my hon. Friend's frustration. We have met members of individual parties in circumstances where we do not recognise transitional or interim Governments, provided it is understood that those members of individual parties are requesting meetings with Ministers on that basis. It would not be sensible to meet representatives of a transitional or interim Government. The Namibia Office is on record as saying that it acts for the interim or transitional Government, and will not represent any individual party within that Government. That presents us with a difficult position. We shall continue to do our best to maintain official contacts, and we hope that future offers made by the Foreign Office will not be refused.

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