HL Deb 12 November 1969 vol 305 cc623-4

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 were the conclusions of the special meeting of the North Atlantic Council called to discuss East-West relations.]


My Lords, 110 COM-muniquè was issued and the proceedings were, of course, confidential. But, as the Secretary-General said at his Press Conference after the meeting, speaking on behalf of all members of the Alliance, the Council provided the guidance needed for the final preparation of the Ministerial Meeting from 3 to 5 December.


My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for that Answer, may I ask whether in those discussions there was a more constructive approach to the proposal for a European security conference, which has now also been so widely supported by Western Governments?


My Lords, I do not accept that the NATO Powers have not taken a constructive view before. Indeed, they themselves had taken initiatives in this direction. I think that what the Secretary-General said sums up the position. He revealed the readiness of Alliance members to consider all possible procedures for negotiation of these issues, including a conference or series of conferences, provided that these are constructive and appropriate to the subject discussed. There was no desire to hold a conference for a conference's sake, but rather a strong determination to promote the careful preparation of all kinds of possible negotiations towards the resolution of the serious problems dividing Europe. I think that that is quite constructive.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord agree that the precondition for a successful East-West Conference would be the abandonment by the Soviet Government of what is called the Brezhnev doctrine?


My Lords, I think that this raises other points. If we are going into negotiation I for one am not going to take up positions; but I am sure that the noble Lord is right.