Oral Answers to Questions — South-East Asia

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15 December 1964.

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Photo of Mr Julian Ridsdale Mr Julian Ridsdale , Harwich 12:00, 15 December 1964

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps with a view to initiating a conference of interested countries to discuss a peaceful settlement of the troubles in South-East Asia.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The troubles in South-East Asia are serious, but they have different origins and involve different groups of countries. At present, I see little chance of finding a generally acceptable basis for a single conference to discuss them all. If this situation were to change, however, Her Majesty's Government would certainly be prepared to consider a conference or conferences as a possible means of promoting peace and stability in the area.

Photo of Mr Julian Ridsdale Mr Julian Ridsdale , Harwich

As there seems little prospect at the present moment of a peaceful settlement, would not the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will do all he can to get the backing of other friendly Asian Powers to aid Malaysia in its struggle against Indonesia? Has he considered carrying out discussions with Japan?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We are certainly doing all we can to get support for the defence of Malaysia's integrity against infiltration and aggression. I have myself taken certain action in that direction, particularly within the Commonwealth. So far as other Asian countries are concerned my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is, of course, trying to get a more lively understanding not only in Japan but throughout the Afro-Asian countries of the position of Malaysia and her rights in this matter.

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

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Foreign Secretary is a co-Chairman in this matter, and would there be any question of reassembling the Geneva Conference?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My right hon. Friend is very well aware of his responsibilities as co-Chairman and if we felt at any time that there would be an advantage in calling together the 14-nation Conference we should not hesitate to do so. In so far as the problems of Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam are concerned, the right hon. Gentleman will be aware that there have been direct bilateral talks between the United States and Cambodia in which some progress has been made. With regard to Vietnam and Laos, what I said in answer to a previous Question will, I am sure, be acceptable to the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

Since there can be no real peace in South-East Asia unless there is the full co-operation of Communist China, would the Prime Minister use his influence in Peking to see whether we can get co-operation from that quarter?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The hon. Gentleman will know that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade visited China recently—I think the first visit by a member of the Cabinet to Communist China—following arrangements made for a right hon. Gentleman opposite to go. My right hon. Friend naturally brought to the attention of the top leaders in China our very strong feelings—and, I am sure, the feelings in all parts of this House—about the action that China could take to help bring peace in South-East Asia.