Oral Answers to Questions — U Thant (London Visit)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield 12:00 am, 27th July 1964

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his discussions with U Thant in London regarding peace and security in South-East Asia.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his discussions with U Thant, the Seretary-General of the United Nations, on the military situation in Vietnam, so far as it comes within the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I had an opportunity of discussing the situation in South-East Asia with U Thant while he was in London. As is normal practice, these talks were confidential.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield

But as it is well known that U Thant has given the advice, with all the weight of his authority, that the problems of Vietnam and the neighbouring countries cannot be settled by military means and can best be settled by a recall of the 1954 Geneva Conference, will the right hon. Gentleman, when he goes to Moscow, suggest to his Soviet colleague, the Co-Chairman of the Conference, that the time is now ripe for the two Co-Chairmen to inform the other parties to the Conference that they are ready to arrange a conference at such moment as will be convenient to the parties concerned and that the aim of the conference will be to restore peace and tranquillity in Indo-China on the basis of the Geneva Agreements?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The situation differs in the three parts of South-East Asia—namely, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam—and I doubt whether a general conference as proposed would solve the problems from which each area suffers. I shall be discussing these matters with the Soviet Government when I visit Moscow.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

As the United States is becoming more and more deeply involved both materially and in terms of prestige in seeking a military solution of this situation, will not the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that the Government agree with the Secretary-General of the United Nations that a solution can be found by political means by the procedures laid down in the Charter, such as, for instance, the re-convening of the 1954 Conference? Should we not make a stand against the increasing danger of this war situation in the Far East extending to North Vietnam and ultimately to China?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have already said in answer to previous Questions that we have no evidence that the United States wishes to extend the war to North Vietnam or China. I feel certain that if any such proposals were made we should be informed and also, I hope, consulted, and we should state our opinion.