ASEAN (Discussions)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th May 1983.

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Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington 12:00 am, 11th May 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when next he intends to meet his ASEAN counterparts; and what they expect to discuss.

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

I met my ASEAN counterparts at the fourth European Community and ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting in Bangkok at the end of March. No date for the next meeting has yet been set. Meanwhile, we maintain contact through diplomatic channels and I would expect to meet a number of my ASEAN colleagues individually during the year. Discussions normally cover a wide range of subjects, including the circumstances in Cambodia.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the five members of ASEAN regard their membership of that organisation as importantly as we regard our membership of the European Community? In view of what he said about Kampuchea and the United Nations resolution sponsored by ASEAN, which almost the entire world, with the exception of the Soviet Union and its Vietnamese clients, supports, what further steps will he take to support the re-establishment in Cambodia of a Cambodian Government led by Prince Sihanouk?

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

I agree with my hon. Friend that ASEAN is an important and effective organisation. It is also a defence organisation in a way that the European Community is not. It was a successful meeting and it was useful for both regional groups to meet. I am constantly exploring with our allies and friends the best way to restore to Cambodia the life and circumstances that we would all wish.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Harlow

How does the right hon. Gentleman's profession of support for democracy and respect for human rights accord with his support for representatives of the Khymer Rouge, which had an appalling record of genocide in Cambodia, remaining in the United Nations organisation? Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to discuss with ASEAN the appalling nature of that regime and the fact that no organisation should support the Khymer Rouge in future?

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

The countries of ASEAN have an extremely difficult problem with the Vietnamese forces in Cambodia. We had a long discussion about the matter, and ASEAN believes that the coalition that now exists will help that country to make progress. It is correct, as the hon. Gentleman says, that the Khmer Rouge is part of that coalition, but all the members of ASEAN, which are the countries most immediately affected by the crisis, believed that to be a helpful move. We supported it for that reason.

Photo of Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke , Darwen

Does my right hon. Friend know that the Foreign Secretary of Thailand, whose Government have recently been returned triumphantly at the polls, now feels strong enough to consider visiting Hanoi to make direct contact with Vietnam and to discuss Kampuchea? If his mission is supported in general by ASEAN, as he believes it will be, will my right hon. Friend give the support of the Government and, if possible of Europe, to that initiative?

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

My hon. and learned Friend has raised an important point. There is the possibility of such a development, and we are considering it with our allies. At first sight it would appear to be a helpful move, and I know that the Thai Foreign Minister is considering it carefully.

Photo of Mr James Lamond Mr James Lamond , Oldham East

If the Foreign Secretary is searching for ways to achieve a solution in Kampuchea, would he not do better to consider the resolutions passed at the recent non-aligned conference in New Delhi, which were at least welcomed by the Foreign Ministers of the three countries in Indo-China at the conference of 12 April, who did not reject them, as they did the resolution that was mentioned earlier?

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire

As is often the case with such resolutions, even if they are taken by the non-aligned movement—which consists of some members that could scarcely be called non-aligned—they do not on the whole produce solutions to problems that are as difficult as those of Cambodia.