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Volume 958: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further initiative he proposes to resolve the problem of displaced persons in Cyprus.

A British contribution of £500,000 has recently been approved for refugee relief in Cyprus. The problem of displaced persons can only be finally resolved in the context of a political settlement.

Can my hon. Friend give some indication of the Government's response to the American proposals for a Cyprus settlement, which are reported in today's press? Can he also say something about the severely practical and immediate problem of tracing about 2,000 Greek-Cypriots who are missing but presumed still alive and whose plight is causing great distress to their relatives, both in Cyprus and in this country?

There is a later Question on the Order Paper about new initiatives, and I think that we should await that. As to the other part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I think that it is a disgrace that no progress has been made on the issue of missing people. There is great anguish among many people and I have witnessed it myself in Cyprus. I am sad that there has been no response to the proposals by the United Nations for a commission of inquiry which would set about the job of finding an answer to these questions.

Has the Minister given any thought to trying to persuade both the Turkish-Cypriots and the Greek-Cypriots to agree to the return of Famagusta, a city of about 40,000 people, to the South? Would not that be a positive step towards looking after the plight of displaced persons and a step towards a comprehensive settlement of this dispute?

Famagusta is a critical part of the overall problem. I know of the hon. Gentleman's long-standing interest in the whole subject of Cyprus, but I put it to him that we should now concentrate on finding an overall strategic solution. As I have said, a later Question on the Order Paper deals with this issue.

Meanwhile, can the Minister say what part the Government are playing in the Security Council discussions on Cyprus, and why?

Our approach in the Security Council, as elsewhere, is to do everything constructive and positive that we can to promote the resumption of intercommunal talks because we believe that progress will be made only when the two parties sit down and start talking directly together about their common interests in finding a solution.