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Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal when next he expects to meet the Foreign Minister of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

I wonder, in view of that reply, whether my hon. Friend would consider writing to the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union drawing to his attention the extraordinarily large numbers of Russian surveillance ships near United Kingdom territorial waters? Will my right hon. Friend ask the Soviet Foreign Minister what those Soviet ships are doing near our waters?

This is a matter that has caused concern to successive British Governments. I take note of my hon. Friend's suggestion.

When the hon. Gentleman meets the Soviet Foreign Minister will he give him an assurance that this country is still committed to detente in Europe, in spite of what has happened in Afghanistan?

The problem with detente is that the Soviet Union has interpreted it in a way which its natural meaning does not bear. The Soviet Union has claimed the right to commit aggression in parts of the world outside Europe and has claimed the right to continue the ideological struggle against countries of the free world by any means. That is not an interpretation of detente that is acceptable to us.

When the Minister eventually meets Mr. Gromyko will he be in a position to inform him that Kuwait has such confidence in the West that it no longer feels it necessary to purchase Russian ground-toground missiles?

When the Minister next meets the Soviet Union's Foreign Minister will he ask that gentleman whether he will publish a report about the movements of other foreign Governments in Afghanistan so that we can determine why the Russian Government decided to invade Afghanistan?

According to information available to me the Soviet Union is the only country which has been interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.