asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Nine in political cooperation on 19 February.
The United Kingdom was represented at the meeting in Rome by my right hon. and noble Friend. The principal subject for discussion was the situation following the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Ministers confirmed the position stated by the Nine in their declaration of 15 January. They also considered a United Kingdom proposal for examination of possible international arrangements for guaranteeing the neutrality of Afghanistan. There was agreement that the crisis could be overcome constructively through an arrangement which made possible a neutral Afghanistan free from competition among outside powers. It will be for the Nine now urgently to examine how these ideas can be developed and carried forward.