HL Deb 06 March 1969 vol 300 cc276-7

3.17 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what response has been made to the proposals of the Soviet Union for a settlement in the Middle East.]


My Lords, we replied to the Soviet proposals on January 23. In our reply we said that we could see some constructive features in the proposals but we asked for clarification of a number of points in them. The Soviet Ambassador conveyed the Soviet response to our reply to my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary on February 17.

I am sure the House will not expect me to go into detail on those exchanges.


My Lords, while thanking my noble friend, may I ask whether he does not agree that on the whole the Soviet proposals are extraordinarily reasonable and constructive, including as they do not only the phased withdrawal but a recognition of Israel and the right of passage through international waterways? Could not the opportunity be taken of the appointment of the new Prime Minister of Israel, Mrs. Golda Meir—and those of us who know her welcome her appointment—for a new approach to try to bring a settlement of these difficulties?


My Lords, as I have said, we saw a number of constructive features in the Soviet proposals and, as my noble friend will know, the question of withdrawal, which is included in those proposals, is not new because it was included in the United Nations resolution on this subject. So far as any new approach is concerned, I think that the present proposals outlined in the United Nations resolution, the activities of Dr. Jarring, the United Nations Representative, and the proposals for a Four-Power conference on this represent a number of useful initiatives, and I hope my noble friend will be prepared to await the outcome of those proposals.


My Lords, while I welcome what my noble friend has said, could he give any indication to this House what is the likelihood of an early meeting of the Four-Power Summit Conference which has been proposed and which has now been endorsed by President Nixon?


My Lords, while discussions are going on in New York to prepare the ground for a meeting of the Permanent Representatives of France, the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, I am afraid that I cannot at this stage say when this meeting will take place.