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Central America

Volume 77: debated on Wednesday 24 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his American counterpart concerning United States involvement in Central America.

I discussed the problems of Central America most recently with the American Secretary of State Mr. Shultz on 21 February.

As the United States Congress has made clear its desire not to pursue a military solution to the situation in Nicaragua, will the Foreign Secretary and his EEC colleagues urge President Reagan to abandon support for the Contras, to sign the protocol to the Contadora treaty and seek genuinely to help the Contadora countries in finding a peaceful solution to the problems of Central America?

The hon. Gentleman rightly reminds the House of the sustained commitment of European Community countries to the Contadora process. The United States has repeatedly stated that it wishes to see political reform in Central America through peaceful means, and we support that objective. The United States reiterated its support for the Contadora process at the recent session of the General Assembly.

Were not the recent highly successful elections in San Salvador a further endorsement of the American policy of encouraging democracy and moderate politicians in Central America?

I entirely agree. The recent elections in El Salvador were a clear demonstration of the consolidation of democracy in that country. The Salvadorean Government will continue to have our support in their efforts to place that democratic process on a stable foundation.

Does not the continuing desire of the United States President to interfere in Central America tend to undermine the stability of all electoral processes in the area, so that countries, such as Costa Rica, which have continually presented a democratic front will eventually be undermined unless a united effort is made to counteract the efforts of the Contras to be based in all parts of Central America?

It is worth remembering that we share with the United States Administration the common objective of a settlement in Central America on the basis of the Contadora principles. As I have said more than once in the House, there is a need for restraint on all sides in the present situation, and not least a need for Nicaragua to end the substantial build-up of arms, troops and military advisers and to stop supporting attempts to destabilise neighbouring Governments.

As both the Pope and the President of Colombia have stated that President Reagan has misrepresented their views on Nicaragua, and as President Reagan has been compelled to drop his proposals for military aid to the Contras and had his revised proposals rejected by the House of Representatives and passed by only a small majority in the Senate, will the British Government now support the forces of common sense in that area and drop their poodle-like devotion to a policy which the American President himself has already abandoned?

I have not heard myself expressing poodle-like devotion to any policy, today or on any other occasion. I have made it plain that we support the common objective of a peaceful settlement in Central America on the basis of the Contadora principles, and we shall continue to support steps directed to that end.