HL Deb 13 May 1974 vol 351 cc729-31

2.37 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 whether they will consult with their co-chairman, the Soviet Union, regarding the desirability of recalling the Geneva Conference for a peace settlement in the Middle East at a suitable negotiating occasion.


My Lords, the United Kingdom is not one of the co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference on the Middle East. These are the United States and the Soviet Union. The communiqué issued in Geneva on April 29 after talks between Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Gromyko says: Both sides expressed themselves in favour of the resumption of the work of the Geneva peace conference on the Middle East at an early date.


My Lords, I thank the Minister for what he has said, particularly for his correction. In view of the fact that the Soviet Union and the Government of the United States of America have now agreed that it would be desirable to recall this Conference, and in view of the situation in the Middle East, in regard to which Dr. Kissinger's negotiations may lead to a settlement about the Syrian/Israeli border, is it not desirable that the much larger questions concerned should be brought before a Geneva Conference representing all the Governments concerned?


My Lords, the Conference is composed of the representatives of the participants, as they are called: the U.N. Secretary-General, the United States, the Soviet Union, Egypt, Israel and Jordan. They came together on December 21. Syria, which was also a member and was invited, decided not to attend. There have been successful initiatives as a result of this Conference leading, as the House knows, to a disengagement agreement between Israel and Egypt. Dr. Kissinger, to whom this work was deputed, is now engaged—successfully, we all hope—in a similar effort between Israel and Syria. We expect that the Conference will, as the noble Lord suggests, be recalled as soon as there is some definite news of success in the matter of the disengagement negotiations.


My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply.