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Bagdad Pact

Volume 600: debated on Wednesday 18 February 1959

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22.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the principal decisions, both military and economic, reached by the countries adhering to the Bagdad Pact at their recent conference.

I have nothing to add to the reply given on the 4th February to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence who attended the last meeting.

May we take it that economic decisions were arrived at at the Conference, and may I ask whether Iraq was in any way affected, or must we assume that Iraq is now out of it in all except name?

That certainly is the position since 14th July. Iraq is still legally a member of the Pact but has been taking no part in its deliberations. As regards progress on the economic side, I would say that that certainly has been considerable and an offer by Her Majesty's Government to spend £850,000 on economic development in the Pact area was very well received at the Conference.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Minister of Defence last week, when asked about the economic results of this Conference, asked the House to await a reply by the Foreign Secretary, and is it really sufficient for the right hon. Gentleman to say now that he has nothing to add to a reply which asked us to await a reply?

I was not present at the time, but I understand that my right hon. Friend said that a communiqué would be issued which goes into some detail about the economic discussions which took place.

Would it not be useful if the Minister of State could persuade his office to let us have a White Paper with all the decisions taken at the recent Conference, the context of the Minister of Defence's speech and other explanations which would enable us to know what happened?

I will look into that; and I will certainly look into the right hon. Gentleman's request that we should make a detailed report about economic progress.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress to date in economic co-operation between the member States of the Bagdad Pact.

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a note—and I think this answers the supplementary question just asked by the right hon. Gentleman—giving some details of the progress of economic cooperation between participating countries of the Pact.

Her Majesty's Government attach great importance to the economic work of the Bagdad Pact, and are satisfied with the progress which has been made.

Will not the Minister agree that the purpose of this Pact was to establish friendly and constructive cooperation between countries which had previously been isolated and in some cases hostile; that, therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the fullest publicity should be given to every step in the direction of establishing peace and co-operation between these countries, and that that publicity has been sadly lacking in the past?

I do not know whether publicity has been sadly lacking but I certainly agree with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question.

Had we not better contemplate changing the name of this Pact? Was not it originally designed to be a Pact for the Arabs primarily and most of the Arabs were against it, and now it is called the Bagdad Pact and Bagdad is against it?

I think that is a very inaccurate account of the history of this Pact which started off with Iran and Turkey as members of it, and neither of them is an Arab country.

Following is the note:

NOTE ON THE ECONOMIC WORK OF THE BAGDAD PACT

The Economic Committee of the Bagdad Pact was established at the end of 1955 with, as its terms of reference, the study of measures of economic co-operation designed to develop and strengthen the joint economic and financial resources of its members, and in particular to consider ways and means of sharing experience in the field of development. In the three years which have passed since the first meeting of the Committee, considerable progress has been made. The main items are summarised in the following paragraphs.

Communications

Contracts have been placed in the United Kingdom for equipment for high-frequency radio telecommunication links between London and Turkey and Iran. A request from Pakistan for equipment for improvement of links between London and Karachi is under consideration. An agreement has been concluded for the reduction of press telegraphic rates between regional members. It has been decided to appoint a team of specialists to consider the joint operation of civil airlines. Further progress has been made towards a unified system of road signs and traffic control regulations. Progress continues to be made in the various projects for improving road and rail links between regional members: in particular, the United Kingdom have undertaken to supply Pakistan with £200,000 for survey and construction in part of the coast road link in Iran, and £100,000 to Iran for their part of one of the road links with Turkey. The United States are also allocating substantial sums both for this and for the Turco-Iranian rail link, for which the United Kingdom are also providing £100,000 worth of equipment.

Scientific co-operation

The establishment of a Scientific Fund with an initial capital of £10,000 provided by the United Kingdom was welcomed.

Technical assistance and joint projects

A Multilateral Technical Co-operation Fund was established with an initial capital of $150,000, designed to increase technical cooperation amongst members. It was announced that the United Kingdom would make provision each financial year for a rate of expenditure of £850,000 for technical assistance and joint projects. In addition Her Majesty's Government have offered to provide equipment for a nuclear training centre to be set up in Tehran.

Agriculture

An Agricultural Training Centre is to be set up at Karaj in Iran. A veterinary convention was signed on 23rd January between regional members. Further assistance is to be given by the United Kingdom to the Red Sindhi Cattle Artificial Insemination Centre near Karachi. United States experts will assist Pact countries in the control of plant and livestock diseases.

Trade

Regional member governments are taking steps towards the standardisation of the agricultural projects and studying ways and means to expand trade between their countries. The next session of the Sub-Committee on trade will consider a series of studies in the Free Trade Area.