HC Deb 22 October 1979 vol 972 cc28-30W
Mr. George Gardiner

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the results of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Nine on political co-operation held on 11 September.

Sir Ian Gilmour

asked The United Kingdom was represented at the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Nine on political co-operation on 11 September by my hon. Friend the Minister of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office—the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd).

The Foreign Ministers discussed current problems in Southern Africa, the Middle East, Indo-China and South America. My hon. Friend briefed his colleagues on Rhodesia in the light of the Lusaka conference. Ministers of the Nine made the following statement on Rhodesia:

  1. "1. The Foreign Ministers of the Nine welcome the understanding reached by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Lusaka on the question of Rhodesia. This includes notably the principles that independence on the basis of majority rule requires the adoption of a democratic constitution including appropriate safeguards for minorities; and that a Government formed under such an independence constitution must be chosen through free and fair elections properly supervised under British Government authority and with Commonwealth observers.
  2. 2. Noting that the Lusaka statement acknowledged that it is the constitutional responsibility of the British Government to grant legal independence to Rhodesia on the basis of majority rule, they therefore welcome the action the United Kingdom Government has taken in circulating constitutional proposals within the Lusaka framework, and inviting the parties to attend a constitutional conference which opened at Lancaster House on 10 September.
  3. 3. They are encouraged by the agreement of all parties to attend the conference and urge them to seize this opportunity to achieve a political solution on the basis of genuine majority rule."

The Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their hope that circumstances would soon allow a resumption of the Euro-Arab dialogue. On the Lebanon they made the following statement: On many occasions over recent years, and specifically in their declaration of 18 June, the Nine have demonstrated their active concern in the face of the constantly deteriorating situation in the Lebanon. Conscious of the courageous efforts made by the Government of President Sarkis with the object of assuring the security of the people and restoring the authority of the State over its territory as a whole, the Nine have continued to reaffirm their support for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon as well as respect for its territorial integrity. They have therefore supported the action of UNIFIL, in which some of them are direct participants. The Nine call on all parties to give full assistance to the UNIFIL operation and to respect the decisions of the Security Council. In the face of recent developments which have led the Government of Lebanon to request a meeting of the Security Council, the Nine wish to reaffirm their full and complete solidarity with a friendly country whose population has suffered so cruelly physically and economically and whose fragile stability is dangerously threatened. Noting the improvement in the situation since the latest debate in the Security Council, the Nine express the hope that there will be a definitive end to all acts of violence in Lebanon, including those directed against UNIFIL. Concerned to avoid an escalation of violence which risks a new conflict in the Middle East, the Nine make a solemn and urgent appeal without exception to all countries and parties concerned that they refrain from all acts likely to infringe the integrity of Lebanon and the authority of its Government. They also call upon all Lebanese of all creeds and political affiliations to support unreservedly the action of their Government in the search for a genuine political dialogue which is the indispensable condition for the return to civil order and security. Accordingly the Nine are ready to support any action or initiative ensuring return to peace and stability in Lebanon, which remains the essential factor of balance and stability in the region.

In their examination of Indo-China, Ministers agreed that it was a matter of the utmost urgency that humanitarian relief be given to Cambodia. They decided that the Nine should support relief efforts already under way or which might be launched in the future to bring effective help to the people of Cambodia. They agreed that the distribution of aid should be subject to effective supervision on the spot, independent of the parties involved in the conflict, and assistance should be available to all the people of Cambodia. The Nine Ministers further expressed their belief that the problems of Cambodia could be resolved only in the context of a wider political solution in the Indo-China peninsula.