HC Deb 03 February 1966 vol 723 cc281-2W
Q15. Mr. Freeson

asked the Prime Minister what information he received, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Government's initiative for peace in Vietnam, from the United States Government of the intention to renew bombing in Vietnam; and what fresh steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to try to prevent this development.

Q16. Mr. Sydney Silverman

asked the Prime Minister what representations he has made to President Johnson in pursuance of Her Majesty's Government's initiative to seek peace in Vietnam against the resumption of United States bombing of North Vietnam.

Q18. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Prime Minister if, following Her Majesty's Government's initiative to seek peace in Vietnam, he was informed by the United States Government, either directly or through Her Majesty's Government's Ministers in Washington, of its decision to resume the bombing of North Vietnam; and what representations he made concerning this bombing policy.

The Prime Minister

Since I reported to the House on my discussions in Washington with the President of the United States, there have been the Christmas truce, the 37-day bombing pause and an intensive diplomatic effort through every possible channel to get the agreement of the North Vietnamese to come to the conference table. In this diplomatic effort Her Majesty's Government played the fullest possible part. Throughout this period I was in the closest touch with the President of the United States, and during the last few days there were constant exchanges between the United States Government and ourselves while we both tried vainly to find even the slightest indication of North Vietnamese readiness to negotiate without unacceptable prior conditions. Her Majesty's Government knew that, if negotiations were rejected, military considerations would weigh very heavily with the United States Government in taking their decision whether to resume the bombing. The United States Government informed us in advance of their decision to resume bombing and explained fully the reasons that led them to this decision, but did not at any time specifically consult us or seek our concurrence.

Q17. Mr. Warbey

asked the Prime Minister what reply he has made to the letter, recently addressed to him by President Ho Chi Minh, calling for an end of United States action in connection with the people of both the northern and the southern zones of Vietnam.

The Prime Minister

The letter in question received on Sunday last was addressed to Her Majesty The Queen. The letter has been studied carefully and other Governments have been consulted in the hope of finding any indication, however slight, that the North Vietnamese might now be ready for discussion and compromise. If there had been any indication, a reply would have been sent at once, but the letter merely reiterated the well-known North Vietnamese position in terms which were, if anything, more negative and intransigent than those in similar communications.

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