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Uk—Soviet Discussions

Volume 477: debated on Monday 17 July 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what was the content of the recent oral communications made by the British Government to the Soviet Government through the British Ambassador in Moscow; and what communication has been received from the Soviet Government in respect thereof.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent discussions that have ensued between the British Ambassador in Moscow and the Soviet Foreign Minister, regarding Korea.

On 29th June, His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow, acting on instructions, conveyed a request that the Soviet Government should co-operate in effecting a peaceful settlement of the Korean conflict. Sir David Kelly on that occasion saw Mr. Pavlov, who undertook to see Mr. Gromyko. On 6th July, Sir David Kelly was requested to call on Mr. Gromyko, and a short discussion ensued between them, which was related to the earlier approach by His Majesty's Government. Sir David Kelly had a further talk with Mr. Gromyko on the subject of Korea on 11th July.

While entirely accepting the view that it is desirable to have the door left open, may I ask if my hon. Friend will bear in mind that there is great public anxiety about this matter, and that as soon as possible information should be given to the people of this country about the content of extremely important interviews of this character? Is he aware that we in the Labour Party, on the whole, prefer the method of open diplomacy to that of secret diplomacy?

His Majesty's Government would, of course, desire to take the House into its confidence when we consider that it is right and proper to do so, but I know that my hon. Friend will realise that it is not always possible to disclose the details of such conversations, especially when grave issues of war and peace are at stake.

Can we not be told what passed between Sir David Kelly and Mr. Gromyko as it is quite unusual to say, first, that a message was delivered to a junior Soviet official, and, then, that a conversation took place between our Ambassador and a representative of the Soviet Foreign Office—not the Foreign Secretary but a representative? Cannot we be told what it was all about?

We have considered this extremely carefully, as I know the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate, and we have decided that, at this stage, it would be in the interest of resolving the present situation not to make any further statement.

I do not want to embarrass the hon. Gentleman or the Prime Minister, but is it not a little unusual, in a situation like this, that we should have no idea of what communication has passed between our Ambassador and the representative of the Soviet Foreign Office? If it is of no importance, no one wants to press or worry the hon. Gentleman, but if it has to do with higher politics should we not be told, at least perhaps tomorrow or the day after, so that the House of Commons may be kept informed? If there is no mystery let us be told so; but if there is a mystery it ought to be cleared up.

I can give this assurance to the right hon. Gentleman, that we will endeavour to make a statement as soon as possible and that I will communicate his views to my right hon. Friend.