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Secretary Of State Vance

Volume 976: debated on Wednesday 16 January 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has any plans to meet Secretary of State Vance.

My right hon. Friend has no immediate plans for a meeting with the United States Secretary of State.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the effectiveness of the proposed United States trade boycott of Iran depends very much upon the co-operation of Europe and Japan? Will his right hon. Friend make that clear to the Secretary of State when they next meet? Does my hon. Friend agree that there have to be steps to support the position of the United States in practice rather than merely verbally, which the Government have done so far?

My hon. Friend will know that the Russians vetoed the United Nations sanctions motion. My right hon. Friends are considering, along with our European and other allies, what they can do to show solidarity and to express the world's disapproval of the detention of the American hostages. We shall do everything possible to secure the release of the hostages.

Does the Minister recollect that when his hon. Friend the Minister of State was answering questions on the statement on Afghanistan on Monday he stated that no agreement had been concluded with the United States on the expansion of the base at Diego Garcia? Are we to take it from that reply that such an agreement is under discussion? If so, what arrangements are the Government making to embody the views of countries around the Indian Ocean, such as India, which have previously opposed such expansion?

All the factors that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned are taken into consideration. I have nothing to add to what my hon. Friend said on Monday.

Has Mr. Vance been told that the refusal to sell arms required by the Royal Ulster Constabulary for its protection and that of Her Majesty's subjects is an unfriendly act towards an ally that is giving President Carter and his Administration considerable support?

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made that point of view abundantly clear during her visit to Washington, and to the President shortly before Christmas. What she said to the House on her return made it clear that she shares, as I do, my hon. Friend's view.

When the right hon. Gentleman meets the United States Secretary of State will he make it plain to Mr. Vance that we share American feeling about the outrage that is continuing against the personnel of the United States Embassy in Tehran? Was this dangerous and, in my view, intolerable situation discussed at yesterday's meeting of NATO at Brussels, and if so, with what effect?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for those comments, which express entirely the Government's view about the continued detention of the American hostages in Tehran. I assure him that there has been no lack of activity to try to co-ordinate action, both in Europe and with our American allies, on what should be the next stage of the response after the failure of the United Nations motion.