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Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a further statement concerning the negotiations to establish a neutral status for Laos.

The Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Boun Oum, held conversations with Prince Souvanna Phouma and Prince Souphanouvong at Zurich from 18th to 22nd June. The three Princes issued a communiqué recording their agreement in principle to form a provisional coalition government and a single delegation to the Conference at Geneva. The communiqué also outlined a list of tasks to which the new Government would address itself when formed, including the pursuit of a neutral policy. The three Princes have announced their intention to meet again in order to complete the task of making the new Government.

Meanwhile, discussion has continued in Geneva on the various proposals which have been tabled.

When does the right hon. Gentleman expect a further conference to take place? Does he agree that unless it takes place soon and agreement is reached there is danger of Laos becoming divided into two States instead of being unified as an independent and neutral State?

The date does not depend on us, but we understand that the three Princes have it in mind to meet during the course of this month. As to the latter part of the supplementary question, I think that all the parties to the Geneva Conference have announced their desire to see a unified as well as an independent neutral Laos.

Will the Lord Privy Seal clear up confusion, at any rate in my mind, about Press reports of an agreement which may or may not have been reached concerning the supply of transport and other facilities to the International Commission in Laos?

The Conference has been discussing the request of the Commission and how this should be met, but it has not yet been possible to reach agreement between the two Co-Chairmen as to the way it should be done.