HC Deb 13 February 1991 vol 185 cc836-7
2. Mr. Wallace

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government propose to take any initiative in the United Nations to seek an immediate ceasefire of hostilities in Cambodia.

16. Mr. Cryer

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received regarding the situation in Cambodia; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd)

Britain has contributed fully to the agreement between the Permanent Five and the co-chairmen of the Paris conference on Cambodia on a draft comprehensive settlement document, an integral part of which is a monitored ceasefire. We continue to pursue the early implementation of these proposals.

Mr. Wallace

Can the Minister confirm that one of the provisions of the United Nations peace plan is such that a ceasefire cannot be implemented, nor can the external supply of arms be discontinued until a date is agreed for the implementation of the plan? A meeting to try to arrange a date seems to be becoming increasingly bogged down and is not happening. He must be aware of the public's great concern about the carnage that has taken place in Cambodia. Can the Government take any fresh initiative to hasten the day when a ceasefire will be possible and will not not necessarily be dependent upon the United Nations peace plan?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We constantly urge a ceasefire. Our objective—with our friends and partners, notably the permanent members of the Security Council—is to work for a comprehensive political settlement which includes a ceasefire. The consensus between the Permanent Five, the Paris conference co-chairmen and the United Nations on the draft settlement document must provide an opportunity for the Paris conference to reconvene one day and to adopt a settlement.

Mr. Cryer

Are not people a little suspicious of the Government's intentions when the Government have been involved in training members of the Khmer Rouge, which includes the Pol Pot faction? Does not the United Nations settlement involve a ceasefire which disarms the Cambodian Government before the Khmer Rouge, including the Pol Pot faction? As the British Government are so concerned about containing aggression, why are they not doing more to aid the Cambodian Government, supported by Vietnam, to resist encroachments by the Pol Pot faction which, as the Minister will readily acknowledge, has one of the worst records in existence for battering human rights?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We have repeatedly stated, and I shall state it again today, that there has never been and there is no Government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with the Khmer Rouge. The hon. Gentleman should use his undoubted energies in the direction of encouraging a comprehensive peace settlement. In that way, we would create the conditions to enable the Cambodian people to elect a Government, free from fear of foreign invasion and civil war or Khmer Rouge atrocities.

Mr. Lester

As regards getting a comprehensive settlement, which is what we all seek, will my hon. Friend consider ensuring that a member of our foreign service goes to talk to the Phnom Penh Government? There are difficulties with the interpretation of the United Nation plan and it would be helpful if we used our diplomatic skills to get over them. Also, will he consider the position of the camps in Thailand, where we are feeding people who are party to a civil war and not under United Nations control?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

We have no objection to talking to representatives of the Phnom Penh regime to urge them to co-operate in restoring peace to Cambodia on the basis of the Permanent Five's framework. It is certainly the case also that we support efforts to improve the lot of displaced people in camps along the Thai-Cambodian border.

Mr. Allason

Given Mr. John Pilger's apparent success in perpetuating the myth that the SAS and other British units have been training the Pol Pot regime and its supporters, has the Foreign Office given any consideration to employing Mr. Pilger as a propagandist against the regime in Baghdad?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The Foreign Office has made clear its fundamental disagreement with so many of Mr. Pilger's allegations.

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