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Volume 130: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has on recent developments in Kampuchea.

We shall continue to urge the withdrawal of all Vietnamese forces from Cambodia and to work for a settlement which allows the Cambodian people to determine their own future through free and fair elections and without outside interference.

Why do the Government continue to support the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot through the coalition of the United Nations? When will they withdraw their support for that murderous regime? Why will they not reconvene the 1954 Geneva conference, which they co-chaired with the Soviet Union when discussing the future of Indo-China, if they are serious about ending the diplomatic isolation of Cambodia over the past nine years?

Not for the first time, the hon. Lady is misinformed. The United Kingdom withdrew all recognition of the Pol Pot regime in December 1979. We have no intention of contributing to its re-establishment. We believe that free and fair elections based on United Nations precedents offer the best guarantee that the Khmer Rouge does not dominate after a political settlement has been found.

With regard to the chance of a United Kingdom initiative on Cambodia, we have long supported the efforts of Cambodia's friends in the Association of the South East Asian Nations to bring about a satisfactory solution to the Cambodian problem, but there is no new British initiative.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the withdrawal of foreign — that is, Vietnamese — troops from Cambodia is the touchstone, not only for security, peace and progress in the region, but for improvement in East-West relations? Is there any sign yet of the Soviet Union putting pressure on its Vietnamese allies to withdraw their forces from Cambodia?

I agree with my hon. Friend. The key ingredient is the withdrawal of occupying Vietnamese forces. With regard to the latter part of his question, the Soviet Union has told us that it endorses the regime's proposals for a solution, including an international conference. However, it has not yet gone further than that.

Do I understand from my hon. Friend's answer to the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) that until 1979 the Pol Pot regime was recognised by the Labour Government, notwithstanding the massacres perpetrated on the Cambodian people? If that is right, is that not another example of the hypocrisy of the Labour party?

As ever, my hon. and learned Friend is right. I thought it best to be charitable on this occasion and not remind the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) of the rather unfortunate fact of the recognition of the Pol Pot regime by the Labour Government in 1976.