§ Mr. Bagier
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the situation in Aden following his recent visit.
§ Mr. Greenwood
Because of the difficulties which arose over the membership of the South Arabian Constitutional Commission I decided to pay a short visit to Aden in order to have direct consultations with the High Commissioner and with the Governments and parties concerned.
I arrived in Aden on Friday, 23rd July, and left on Sunday, 25th July. I met representatives of the Federal Government, the Aden State Government, the Peoples Socialist Party and the South Arabian League. I regret that I had not time to pay a visit myself to the Eastern Aden Protectorate to hold discussions with the Governments of the Qaiti and Kathiri States whose participation in constitutional talks is rightly regarded as most important. I did however arrange for them to be fully consulted.
Thanks to the co-operation which was displayed by all those I met, despite the very short notice I gave them, we were able to have valuable and constructive discussions. I am hopeful that these will arrest the deterioration in the political situation which had set in, and will make easier our urgent quest for a political solution of the difficult problems of the area.
Our discussions were directed towards finding a procedure through which all the governments and parties concerned in South Arabia could resume discussion of the pressing constitutional problems. Our starting points were, first, the generally accepted principles of self-determination and independence expressed by the United Nations Resolution No. 1949 (XVIII) of December, 1963, and, second, the declared intention of Her Majesty's Government to bring South Arabia to independence not later than 1968.
Accordingly I proposed that a representative working party should be set up to meet in London under my chairman- 88W ship in the first week of August in order to prepare the agenda for a constitutional conference, to be held in December. I have reason to believe that this proposal stands a good chance of receiving general support among all concerned in South Arabia. I recognise, of course, that such a working party is only a step towards resolving the difficult matters at issue. But it should enable the area of agreement and the problems which will have to be dealt with by the constitutional conference to be identified. Thereafter the same body of delegates would continue to meet in Aden under the High Commissioner's chairmanship to co-ordinate the detailed study of these problems.
At the same time the Federal Government has sought our help in obtaining the services of constitutional advisers to enable it to press on with the examination of constitutional development.
I should like to pay tribute to the spirit of constructive goodwill shown by all I met and to their readiness to replace the atmosphere of recrimination and distrust with one of co-operation. I believe that this approach now offers real hope for a resumption of political progress in Aden and the Protectorate of South Arabia.