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South-East Asia (Defence)

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1954

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50.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the 10 countries who have agreed to discuss the possibility of collective defence in South-East Asia.

I am not aware that 10 countries have agreed to discuss the possibility of securing a collective defence in South-East Asia. Following Mr. Dulles' visits to London and Paris, a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, France and the United States, announced their willingness to examine this possibility. Other countries which have signified their willingness to examine it are Siam, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

Does the reply of the Minister mean that India, Pakistan and Ceylon are to take part in these discussions? If not, is it because they have not been invited?

No discussions have been arranged at all. What I referred to in my answer was announcements by certain countries that they are willing to examine the proposals. No arrangements have been made for discussions. As was said before, the Commonwealth Asian countries are being kept closely informed of the course of events.

In view of the Minister's answer to me on the same subject recently, may I ask if he is now in a position to state whether the report of "The Times" correspondent on Thursday last from Canberra as to a statement by Sir Philip McBride that 10 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have agreed to these talks, is correct or incorrect?

Under those circumstances, will the Minister tell the House whether Australia informed Her Majesty's Government of the names of the countries on their undertaking to go into talks before they were started?

I have told the House the actual facts of the situation. I am not responsible for what Ministers in other Governments may say.