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Ministerial Visits

Volume 301: debated on Tuesday 25 November 1997

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My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no plans to visit India again in the near future. He hopes to be able to visit Canada on European Union business in mid-January next year.

When the Foreign Secretary visits Canada, will he acquaint himself with the events of 24 July 1967, when President de Gaulle visited Quebec and gave his now infamous Quebec libre speech? That might give him some useful hints about what not to say when he next visits Kashmir.

The hon. Gentleman has reached new depths with that question. Perhaps we should congratulate him on his creativity in that respect. My right hon. Friend is looking forward to and will enjoy his visit to Canada, where he will strengthen our bilateral relations with Canada, as he has with every other country that he has so far visited.

Will the Minister assure the House that Her Majesty's Government will continue to make it clear to the Governments of Pakistan and India that we stand ready, as we are all members of the Commonwealth, to make available our good offices to enable those two great countries to try to resolve the problems surrounding Kashmir to bring peace and stability to that region and so improve the lives of people in those countries and in Kashmir?

We have said throughout that we intend to make our good offices available to both parties if that is the wish of both parties, and we stand by that statement.