Mr. Latham asked
the Lord Privy Seal under what circumstances the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) came to be photographed in the company of Mr. Nabil Ramlawi, who is described as the London representative of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, a copy of which photograph appears on page 5 of the October edition of The Palestine Report; and whether it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government not to have any ministerial contacts with PLO representatives so long as that organisation refuses to recognise Israel's right to exist.521W
§ Mr. Hurd
On 15 September I paid a courtesy call on Mr. Bassam Shaka'a, the Mayor of Nablus, who is in this country for medical treatment following a car-bomb attack. The photograph in question appears to have been taken as I entered the room. Ministers do not under present policy have official contacts with representatives of the PLO. They would find it easier to do so if the organisation were to renounce all links with terrorism and accept Israel's right to exist.
§ Mr. Latham
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will list the other people who were present at the meeting between the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) and the mayor of Nablus in London on 13 September; and whether the Minister was informed before the meeting that it would also be attended by self-styled representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
§ Mr. Hurd
During this call I was accompanied by Mr. Oliver Miles from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Mr. Nabil Ramlawi and other friends of Mr. Shaka'a's were also present. The PLO had been helping with Mr. Shaka'a's arrangements during his stay in London. I was therefore aware of the possibility that a representative of the PLO could be at the meeting with Mr. Shaka'a.
There have been occasional casual contacts of this kind in the past under successive Governments.
§ Mr. Latham
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will list the occasions with venues, since the formation of this Administration, when Ministers in the Foreign Office have met representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, other than chance, unscheduled meetings at social occasions; and whether any such meetings were of a formal, structured nature which would permit the Palestine Liberation Organisation to claim that it had taken part in talks with Ministers.