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Association Of South East Asian Nations

Volume 78: debated on Tuesday 30 April 1985

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will seek a meeting with his counterparts in the Association of South East Asian Nations.

My right hon. Friend would certainly hope to see his ASEAN counterparts individually as circumstances allow, and he will be seeing the Malaysian deputy Defence Minister during the latter's visit to London next month.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, which I welcome. Does he agree that on this, the 10th anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam war, the ASEAN countries in general, and particularly Thailand, are continuing to bear a tremendous burden from Soviet-backed Vietnamese aggression in the region? Will he do all he can to encourage the ASEAN countries in their valiant efforts to uphold and maintain freedom in South-East Asia?

We very much share the concern of the ASEAN countries about the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia. Equally, we share their concern about the very significant and major Soviet build-up in Cam Ranh Bay.

Does the Minister of State recall that a New Zealand battalion in that area is helping to maintain stability? This contribution from a non-nuclear power was somewhat vilified in this House and elsewhere during the visit of the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

If the hon. Member is referring to the New Zealand Government's present policy on ship visits, that is a disappointment to us and we very much hope that in the fullness of time they will reconsider their position on that issue.