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Secretary Of State Vance

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal when next the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs plans to meet Mr. Vance.

My right hon. and noble Friend has no definite plans for a meeting with the American Secretary of State.

When the Secretary of State meets Mr. Vance will he convey to him the congratulations of the Government and of most hon. Members on the stand that he took and the speech that he made at the IOC meeting at Lake Placid? Following the IOC's mostill-judged decision, what do the Government now propose?

I shall certainly see that my right hon. and noble Friend conveys my hon. Friend's congratulations to Mr. Vance. Of course, we are disappointed, as are many people, that the IOC decided as it did. We remain of the view that it would be preferable to remove the summer Games from Moscow, because any other course would appear to condone Soviet aggression in Afghanistan and allow the Soviet Union a propaganda victory—

Therefore, the Government will continue to consult the growing number of countries that, happily, share our view on this issue. We shall consider with them the options that are open to us as a result of the IOC decision. An important part of the consultation will naturally be the European Community ministerial meeting to be held in Rome on 19 February. After these consultations, and in the light of a study of all the possibilities, the Government will convey their views to the British Olympic Association, which is due to meet on 4 March

Will the Lord Privy Seal point out to Mr. Vance the danger to world peace of America sending 1,800 Marines to the Gulf next month, of preparing a 100,000-strong rapid deployment force, and of setting up military bases in Masira, Somalia, Kenya, Diego Garcia and other points further east?

It would be silly for my right hon. and noble Friend to complain in any way about the transport of 1,800 American troops when there are about 70,000 Soviet troops in Afghanistan. That is the danger to world peace, and that is the problem to which the hon. Gentleman should be addressing himself.

Will my right hon. Friend congratulate the United States Government on granting $10·4 billion to Third world countries for trade and military affairs, and will he arrange to coordinate funds in Western Europe in order to grant moneys to Third world countries and those under pressure, for example for the training of freedom fighters in Afghanistan, Yemen and Ethiopa?

I agree very much with the drift of the first part of my hon. Friend's question, but I do not at all agree with the second part. The Soviet Union is the only country that has interfered internally in Afghanistan, and we want it to remain that way—[Interruption.] I should make clear that we deplore the Soviet action, but we have no intention whatever of following suit.

Does not the Lord Privy Seal agree that the danger of peace is in the lack of a co-ordinate Western response at a time of crisis, and that some of the events of the last few weeks have echoed the lack of unity that was apparent at the time of the Yom Kippur war? Does he agree that political co-operation seems to work only at times of calm, and that the West seems to fall apart every time there is a real crisis? Should not the right hon. Gentleman be talking to Mr. Vance about that?

The hon. Gentleman is taking an unduly pessimistic view. It is not suprising that there should have been initial differences of perception about the dangers of what happened in Afghanistan, and a difference of reaction. There have been definite signs of convergence over the last few weeks, and I am confident that that process will continue.