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Vietnam

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 19 February 1975

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16.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had in Washington about the situation in Vietnam; and if he will make a statement.

Did my right hon. Friend draw to the attention of the people with whom he had these confidential discussions the concern felt by many people all over the world about the continuation of the fighting two years after the signing of the Paris Agreement? Did he draw to their attention the concern felt at the continuing supply of American war materials to the Saigon Government and the imprisonment of about 200,000 political prisoners in Saigon's gaols? If not, why not?

It is public knowledge, irrespective of any representations or discussions I had, that the British Government have been in touch with both the North and the South Vietnamese Governments to express our grave concern about the fighting which is going on. The United States itself, as is also public knowledge, has made it clear that the way to tackle this problem is for the talks provided for in the agreement to be resumed between the parties. As for arms supply, that is going on on both sides and is not contrary to the agreement signed in Paris. Indeed, it is specifically provided for, in the matter of replacements. Clearly, however, the right thing here is for the fighting to stop and for the two parties to engage in the talks which both agreed in Paris to undertake.

Meanwhile, will the right hon. Gentleman admit, in common fairness, that the fighting which is going on is by North Vietnamese or North Vietnamese-sponsored troops against positions in the South, and that there are no South Vietnamese or South Vietnamese-sponsored troops engaging in hostilities in the North?

It is true that hostilities are not being engaged in in the North. I think it is the PRG which is conducting much of the fighting going on in the South at present.