HC Deb 23 March 1979 vol 964 cc320-1W
Mr. O'Halloran

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the results of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the EEC on political co-operation held on 12 March.

Dr. Owen

The Foreign Ministers met in political co-operation on 12 March. They discussed current problems in the Middle East, in Africa, and in Indo-China. No formal statements were made. The French Foreign Minister, M. Francois-Poncet speaking as the Presidency, gave a press conference at which he summarised the discussion on the following linesMinisters of Foreign Affairs of the member States of the European Community considered it premature to express their view on the negotiations taking place on the Middle East. At their meeting in political co-operation, Ministers recalled the declaration which they made on 29 June 1977 defining the principles of an overall lasting settlement in the Middle East and agreed that this was still entirely valid and relevant to the present situation. In addition, Ministers agreed that an international effort was needed to help Ruanda and Burundi, which are in serious difficulties because fighting between Tanzania and Uganda has hindered the normal delivery of their food supplies. Community and bilateral funds will be used to charter several planes to transport to Ruanda and Burundi supplies which are at present held up in African ports such as Dares-Salaam and Mombasa. Ministers were unanimous in expressing their concern about developments in Namibia and expressed the wish that a peaceful and internationally recognised settlement should take place. They expressed the hope that discussions would continue with South Africa on the basis of the United Nations Secretary-General's report. On Rhodesia, they re-iterated their disapproval of the elections due to be held on 29 April and declared their intention of maintaining the sanctions imposed by the United Nations. They expressed the hope that renewed negotiations would take place between the parties concerned, and praised the efforts of the United Kingdom and the United States in the search for a settlement. On the Horn of Africa, Ministers noted that continuing tension meant that the risk of destabilisation had not disappeared. Finally, Ministers expressed the hope that ecenomic activity in Iran would soon return to normal and that co-operation between Iran and the member countries of the Community would continue.

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