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Cyprus

Volume 976: debated on Wednesday 16 January 1980

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2.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will invite the Foreign Minister of Cyprus to London.

The Foreign Minister of Cyprus is always welcome in London, and I look forward to seeing him here soon.

Does the Lord Privy Seal agree that there is a need for a new initiative on Cyprus? Does he also agree that it is primarily Britain's responsibility to try to achieve a settlement in that country, and will he tell the House what plans he has to do that?

I am not sure that now is the best moment for an initiative. I certainly agree that an initiative of some sort is welcome, but intercommunal talks under the Secretary-General of the United Nations remain, I am sure, the only practical means of progress towards a settlement. Some small progress was made last summer and then other events intervened. We continue to give the fullest support to Dr. Waldheim's efforts, and if we see any opportunity to take an initiative ourselves we shall take it. At present, I do not see that opportunity.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Dr. Waldheim said before Christmas that there was some hope of restarting intercommunal talks this month, that is, in January this year? What has changed in the meantime to put that back? Did the right hon. Gentleman's last reply mean that he does not see any chance of the intercommunal talks taking place in the first half of 1980?

I did not say that. I said that I did not see any prospect of an immediate initiative by this country. As regards the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I think that the reason for delay was merely events elsewhere in the world.