Oral Answers to Questions — Vietnam

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1966.

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Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking 12:00 am, 24th November 1966

asked the Prime Minister what exchanges he has had with the President of the United States of America since the President's Asian tour; and if, in view of the risk of the escalation of the war in Vietnam, he will urge the President once more to suspend the bombing of North Vietnam and at the same time renew his invitation to the Soviet Government to join with Her Majesty's Government in reconvening the Geneva Conference.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Her Majesty's Government are in frequent touch with both the American and Soviet authorities about the situation in Vietnam, but I have no specific report to make to the House at present.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

While all of us wish the Foreign Secretary well in his mission to Moscow, may I ask if the Prime Minister would not agree that peace offers may seem rather less plausible to Hanoi if simultaneously more and more American troops are poured into South Vietnam?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I welcome what my hon. Friend said about the Foreign Secretary. The House will know that the Foreign Secretary is now staying a little longer in Moscow for further meetings tomorrow morning. I do not think I had better add to what I have said, but of course my hon. Friend will recognise that last year there was a very extensive bombing pause which unfortunately did not receive reciprocation in any form either in terms of a willingness to attend the conference table or to stop infiltration from North Vietnam to South Vietnam and, for this reason, did not produce the results which many of us hoped that it might.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

As the Prime Minister knows, Britain was not represented at the Manila Conference. Can he say whether, in view of this country's interest in this part of the world, it is his intention to press for British representation at any future Asian summit meeting? If so, how is he setting about achieving this?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We were represented in Canberra at the meeting of S.E.A.T.O. in discussions with Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The reason why we were not represented at Manila was that we have not got troops in Vietnam. This is considered Government policy, but if the noble Lord thinks we should have troops there perhaps one day he will say so.

Mr. Bob Brown:

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that there must be a better chance of a bombing pause in Vietnam, or anywhere else, if the atmosphere is cool? If so, would it not be a good thing to try to prevail on the American Government at least to have a Christmas truce?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

We were successful, with others, in prevailing on the American Government for a Christmas truce last year and as a result partly of our representations and my discussions with the President last December this was extended for very many weeks, because we thought it right that it should go on long enough for the parties in Vietnam to realise what was at issue. The reaction was disappointing, but I think there has been a suggestion already from the American Government that they are willing to agree to a Christmas truce this year.