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Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 14 December 1965

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asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to discuss with President Johnson, at their forthcoming meeting, the need to end the bombing in Vietnam and to hold negotiations, which would include the Vietnam National Liberation Front, on the basis of the 1954 Geneva Agreements and the United Nations Charter.


asked the Prime Minister what fresh initiative Great Britain proposes to take with the United States Government to end the bombing of North Vietnam.

As I explained on 9th December, I hope to discuss all aspects of the Vietnam problem with President Johnson.

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that in these discussions he will hold by the Geneva Agreements providing for the reunification and military neutralisation of Vietnam as a basis for a settlement, and will rule out the use of force or the threat of force, in the form of the American occupation, to extort terms which are inconsistent with the Geneva Agreements?

Leading American spokesmen have expressed their willingness to negotiate on the basis of the 1954 agreement as, to use my hon. Friend's phrase, the basis of a final settlement. With regard to the question of bombing raids, which is mentioned in the Question, we made clear in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' communiqué our view that the bombing and the infiltration should be stopped—and stopped together—as a basis for a ceasefire and negotiations.

When my right hon. Friend sees President Johnson, would he try to obtain an extension of the proposed cease-fire on Christmas Day for many more days and, at the same time, impress on President Johnson that any extension of the war which might include the whole of South-East Asia—including China—would be abhorrent to the British people?

The wider danger referred to by my hon. Friend will be abhorrent not only to the British people hut, I am certain, to the whole world—not least to the United States and any other country which is involved in this matter. With regard to the bombing, we have repeatedly said that if there were to be a suggestion of linking an agreement by Hanoi to go to the conference table with the stopping of the bombing, this is something which we would want to pursue. This was one of the ideas in the minds of the members of the Commonwealth Peace Mission. We have not yet had any indication—though we may get it one day—that Hanoi would be willing to come to the conference table on that or any other reasonable basis.

When the Prime Minister stresses that negotiation would be welcome to everybody, would he also thank the President for the very great efforts of the United States to stop the over-running of the Far East by Communist military forces?

We have repeatedly said, in many debates, that we support the United States in their policy in Vietnam. At the same time, we pressed the United States very strongly last spring, and we have pressed Hanoi repeatedly since that time, to agree to negotiate and to end this war to which, as we have repeatedly said, there can be no military solution.