HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 cc149-50
15. Mr. Ivan Lewis (Bury, South)

If he will make a statement on the Prime Minister's recent visit to Israel and the progress of the subsequent talks. [40506]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office(Mr. Derek Fatchett)

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had a successful visit to Israel on 19 to 21 April. As a result of his meetings with regional leaders, the United Kingdom was able to facilitate the talks on the peace process, which were held in London on 3 to 5 May.

Mr. Lewis

Notwithstanding the virtue or otherwise of regularly winning the Eurovision song contest or the short-term difficulties that currently face the peace process, will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to pay tribute to the state of Israel on its 50th anniversary for its economic and social progress, and for the fact that it remains the only democracy in the middle east?

Mr. Fatchett

I am happy to pay tribute to the successes of the state of Israel to which my hon. Friend refers. The best birthday present for the people and the state of Israel would be a comprehensive and lasting peace for the region. I hope that all political leaders in Israel and in the region share that common goal and will work towards that objective.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East)

As it took a visit by the Prime Minister to the middle east and Israel to clear up the mess that was left behind after the Foreign Secretary's visit, does the Foreign Office have any plans for the Prime Minister to follow the Foreign Secretary on his forthcoming visit to Turkey as well?

Mr. Fatchett

As the hon. Gentleman says, the visit by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was extremely successful. It succeeded in bringing the parties together in London, and I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would be satisfied with that result. Instead of smirking, it is about time that he invested something in the peace process, which is a great deal more important.

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