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South-East Asia (Defence)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 28 April 1954

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34 and 35.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he will propose to the United States and other interested governments that the independent countries of South-East Asia represented at the Premiers' Conference at Ceylon on 28th April shall be invited to participate in any discussions on the establishment of a collective security organisation in South-East Asia;

(2) whether he will propose to the countries represented at the Geneva Conference that in the consideration of questions affecting South-East Asia they shall take into account the decisions of the Conference of Premiers of South-East Asian countries, meeting at Ceylon on 28th April.

Her Majesty's Government are anxious that the views of the Asian countries in conference at Colombo should be taken fully into account on all questions affecting peace and security in South-East Asia. Any expression of these views which may emerge from the conference in Colombo will be carefully and sympathetically considered.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the Prime Minister's statement yesterday means that further discussions on the proposed South-East Asia Regional Security Pact have been postponed pending the outcome of the Geneva Conference? Secondly, will he give an assurance that this country will not enter into such a pact without the agreement of India and the other South-East Asian countries who are directly concerned with the area?

The answer to the first supplementary question is that general conversations regarding the composition of any security system have not been initiated. In regard to the second supplementary question, the attitude of India will, of course, be a matter for very careful consideration by Her Majesty's Government.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend not agree that the attitude of India with regard to Kashmir is bedevilling the whole of this situation and does not leave much hope that India's attitude will be much better on other things?

Will my right hon. and learned Friend say, in answering Question No. 34, how he is interpreting the word "independent"? Does it mean independent of Soviet Russia?