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Laos

Volume 656: debated on Monday 26 March 1962

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4.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement about the present situation in Laos, and about the conference on Laos now sitting in Geneva.

Since my right hon. Friend's replies on 21st February, the military situation has remained generally quiet, although there have been occasional minor outbreaks of fighting. Negotiations for the formation of a Government of National Union are continuing and the Geneva Conference is awaiting their outcome.

Does the Minister of State recall that it was the C.I.A. which most disastrously brought about the downfall of Prince Souvanna Phouma's Government, and is he satisfied that the C.I.A. are not now reinforcing and supporting the Right-wing Government of Vientiane and thus preventing us from bringing Souvanna Phouma back into power, as we desire?

I think the right hon. Gentleman will have seen the statement made by Mr. Harriman over the weekend, which is extremely helpful, and I would recommend him to study it further.

Can my hon. Friend say whether the weekend news was confirmed with the British Government, because we welcome this new approach to the problem and the agreement that Prince Boun Oum will not be supported in establishing an opposite Government.

We have not received the official version of Mr. Harriman's Statement, but the hon. Gentleman will have seen in The Times today a reference to it.

As the hon. Gentleman a little earlier warned us not to be taken in too quickly by what we see in the Press, can he guarantee accuracy this time?

I said that I was not responsible for all that appears in the Press. That is the position now, but I should be very surprised if this report were wildly inaccurate.