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Saudi Arabia (Shipping Agreement)

Volume 530: debated on Monday 19 July 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now make a statement on the agreement reached between Saudi Arabia and Mr. Socrates Onassis; and what action he has taken to protect British interests.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a further statement on the agreement between Saudi-Arabia and Mr. Onassis.

Her Majesty's Government have now studied the agreement between the Saudi Arabian Government and Mr. Onassis. There is no doubt, in their view, that this agreement constitutes flag discrimination by seeking to force buyers of oil to use tankers of one particular flag. It is, therefore, contrary to accepted maritime practice.

Her Majesty's Government deplore such interference by a Government with the shipper's freedom of choice of vessel, and it is clear that British interests will be adversely affected by this agreement. We have been in the closest touch with the United States Government and with other Governments and commercial interests, whose objections to this agreement are as strong as our own.

My right hon. Friend has expressed to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador his grave concern at this agreement and his hope that the Saudi Arabian Government will think very carefully before pursuing a course which seems calculated to lead them into difficulties with friendly Powers.

Has a reply been received to the Government's representations to the Saudi Arabian Government?

Can the Minister confirm that this agreement has finally been settled, or is it still in draft form?

I should like notice of that question. It is not quite clear, but I think it has been finally settled.

Is it the intention to take this matter to some international organisation to see whether an amicable settlement can be reached, or do the Government propose to leave it where it is?

We hope to reach agreement with the Saudi Arabian Government, with whom we have friendly relations.