HC Deb 14 July 1987 vol 119 cc965-6
8. Mr. Burt

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to meet the Soviet Defence Minister to discuss conventional defence in Europe.

Mr. Younger

I have no plans to meet the Soviet Defence Minister. We are, however, taking an active and positive part in the continuing negotiations on mutual and balanced force reductions dealing with conventional forces, and in the discussions on the mandate for new negotiations on conventional stability.

Mr. Burt

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Although he has no plans to see his counterpart in the Soviet Union, what progress has been made towards establishing at least a basis for future conventional arms reduction talks?

Mr. Younger

The North Atlantic Council communiqué, which was issued in June 1987, repeated the priority that NATO Foreign Ministers attach to agreeing a mandate for new negotiations covering the whole of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, The new negotiations will cover both conventional stability, that is to say lower force levels and further confidence, and security-building measures building upon the Stockholm document of September 1986.

Dr. Owen

Does the Secretary of State support direct negotiations between the NATO and Warsaw Pact organisations, and if not, why not?

Mr. Younger

All the negotiations between East and West take place in different fora according to the subject of the negotiations, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman knows. Considerable difficulties were faced in finding the right forum for the part of the negotiations that the right hon. Gentleman has in mind, but I believe that they are now resolved and that the discussions can proceed.

Mr. Ward

In any discussions on disarmament, will my right hon. Friend pay especial attention to chemical arid biological weapons? Their inclusion in any negotiations is of great importance to the West.

Mr. Younger

I agree with my hon. Friend. The Government have long felt that there should be a complete worldwide ban on all chemical and biological weapons. We are making this a major feature of our suggested negotiating position for all further arms reduction talks.

Mr. Denzil Davies

Is there a common negotiating position within NATO on conventional force reductions? In other words, is NATO in a position to start negotiating? Secondly, will any negotiations in respect of battlefield nuclear weapons be linked to the conventional talks, or dealt with separately?

Mr. Younger

There is clear agreement among the NATO Allies on how to proceed with the talks. We are extremely disappointed, however, that the East has still not responded substantively to the Western proposal of December 1985 to build on areas of agreement between the two sides. Battlefield nuclear weapons will not be addressed in the current INF negotiations, but will be dealt with in subsequent negotiations.

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