I was particularly glad that Dr. Schröder was able to accept my invitation so soon after the formation of the new Federal German Government.
The object of our talks was to exchange views on many important problems of common concern, including the problems of nuclear organisation in the Alliance, German reunification, European relations, and various bilateral matters. We took the opportunity also to discuss ways of realising our common objective of ex- panding and intensifying existing Anglo-German consultation at all levels. Ministerial meetings—such as my talks with Dr. Schröder—form an important part of this process.
I am glad to be able to tell the House that the talks were extremely useful. They were also very timely, falling as they did shortly before my own forthcoming visit to Moscow.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on this side of the House will support his view that it was very welcome that he should have had these talks with the German Foreign Minister? Did he discuss with his visitor the view which the right hon. Gentleman himself has expressed, that we should now consider whether the proposals for the A.N.F. and the M.L.F. should be dropped; and, if so, what was his visitor's reaction, and what will be the next steps?
The hon. Gentleman is putting into my mouth rather more than I said on this matter, but we did discuss the future of the Atlantic Alliance. It was not the purpose of the talks to reach firm conclusions on this, but we did make progress in the understanding of it.
In connection with these discussions, can the Foreign Secretary give us an assurance that the Government will not contemplate suggestions that the British Polaris submarine fleet might be either returned to the United States or made the basis of a mixed-manned fleet?
That is going rather wider than my talks with Dr. Schröder. The hon. Gentleman will realise that decisions on these matters have got to be considered in a defence context as well as a foreign affairs context.
Will my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary take some opportunity of killing the idea that Germany can obtain any significant equality of prestige or status by any form of nuclear share and that the Germans, if they want equality, should be pressing for disarmament, to which all the nuclear Powers have been committed for so long?
In the light of the confusion which has been caused by the Foreign Secretary's statement in the United States, did the Foreign Secretary make it clear to Dr. Schröder what exactly is our policy on the Atlantic Nuclear Force, and, if so, can he make it clear to the House? Is it being pushed by the Government, are they now neutral on it, or have they abandoned the scheme?
My talks with Dr. Schröder were confidential, but we had a useful exchange of views on subjects of mutual interest. It was not the intention that any decisions should be reached at the meeting.
This is exactly the kind of thing which one should not try rigidly to prejudge at this juncture. What I said in the reply to an earlier Question is the best way to leave the matter at present.