Foreign Ministers (Meeting)

European Community written question – answered at on 22 October 1981.

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Mr. Grylls asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Ten on political co-operation on 13 October.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins: At their meeting on 13 October my right hon. and noble Friend and his colleagues from the other countries of the Ten had a valuable exchange of views on the prospects for the CSCE review conference in Madrid on the Middle East and on ways of strengthening political co-operation. On the CSCE, Ministers approved the line on which their officials are currently working and instructed their negotiators at Madrid to redouble their efforts to secure a substantial and balanced concluding document by Christmas. They agreed that this should include the French proposal for a conference on disarmament in Europe as well as substantial progress in the human rights field. With regard to the Middle East, the Ministers paid personal tribute to President Sadat and expressed their determination to remain active on the Middle East question in accordance with the principles of the Venice declaration. It was agreed that my right hon. and noble Friend should visit Riyadh in his capacity as President of the Council of Ministers to discuss the eight principles recently put forward by Prince Fahd.

Ministers approved a report on European political co-operation. This embodies a strengthened commitment to political co-operation and contains a number of improvements in the proceedings and machinery of political co-operation, including a small support staff drawn from preceding and following Presidencies for the Presidency and a new emergency procedure whereby a meeting can be convened automatically within 48 hours at 163 the request of any three member countries. The report will in due course be published as a White Paper. Meanwhile, a copy of it is being placed in the Library of the House.