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Volume 982: debated on Wednesday 16 April 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal how many times in the current year the five Western Powers have held discussions with South Africa concerning the ending of the illegal occupation of Namibia.

The negotiations for Namibian independence to be achieved through the plan for United Nations supervised elections require frequent contact between the five Western Powers, acting either jointly or individually, and South Africa.

Does not the Minister recognise that there is some urgency in the matter, since South Africa is now regularly using Namibia as a base for repeated assault and aggression not only against Angola but against Zambia? Is there not a contradiction between our efforts to free Namibia and our apparent interest in building up commercial and financial relations with South Africa?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, there have been discussions recently between United Nations officials, on both the military and political sides, and the various countries involved with the Namibian problem. Dr. Waldheim, the United Nations Secretary-General, has just made a report on that mission. It is reasonable that we should strike a balance between the need for some patience, in the light of those developments, and the need to reach an agreement as soon as possible—I hope—on the outstanding problem of the demilitarised zone.

Will my hon. Friend ensure that when the group of Five discuss Namibia full consideration is given to the views of the different parties inside Namibia, and also to the views of the different wings of SWAPO inside and outside Namibia?

Yes, I can assure my hon. Friend of that. The group of Five have kept in touch with the internal parties to ensure that they are aware of their views, and they will continue to do so.

Is it not in the interest of the West that there should be a free, democratic and independent Namibia as soon as possible?

Indeed. That is why we are committed to working as hard as possible for United Nations' supervised elections.