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Nicaragua: Us Action

Volume 489: debated on Wednesday 28 October 1987

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3.1 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made representations to the United States Government to cease their action in Nicaragua.

My Lords, we regularly discuss the situation in Central America with the United States Administration, and they are fully aware of our views.

My Lords. I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he not agree that it is perfectly obvious that we are not having much luck with the Americans in sustaining the hopes expressed by every knowledgeable political commentator in Great Britain? Does he not further agree that the entire situation with regard to the Contras and to that part of the world has had some distasteful ramifications in other places? Would it not have helped the American Government if they had accepted the Central American peace accord which was signed by President Ortega himself and by four other presidents who are noted as tremendous supporters of President Reagan and the United States of America? That could be the beginning of an end to this issue.

My Lords, we have consistently advocated a peaceful negotiated solution to the region's problems. We therefore warmly welcome the Central American peace agreement and will continue to encourage the Central Americans to resolve their problems peacefully.

My Lords, will my noble friend ask his right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to make equal representations to the governments of Cuba, East Germany and the Soviet Union to cease their intervention in Nicaragua? Without such intervention there would not have been action of the kind the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, complains about.

My Lords, we welcome Her Majesty's Government's support for the Guatemalan peace agreement. Will the Minister go one step further and say whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to press the United States Government to initiate talks with the Nicaraguan Government to see whether this unhappy matter can be settled?

My Lords, as I said, we believe that the problems of the region cannot be solved by armed force. We have consistently urged restraint on all sides and the United States has been kept aware of our views. I do not think there is anything else I can add to that.

My Lords, I am very much obliged. By "restraint on all sides", does the Minister mean restraint on the United States Government as well?

My Lords, it means precisely what I said—restraint on all sides.

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that recent press reports concerning the possible talks between the Sandinista Government and the Contras give rise to some cautious optimism?

My Lords, anything we can find that gives cause for optimism is worth looking at. I have not seen those particular reports but I am sure my noble friend is right.

My Lords, have the Government extended their congratulations to President Arias of Costa Rica on winning the Nobel Peace Prize for the Central American settlement plan of which mention has been made? Are the Government aware that this plan calls on all the Central American countries to set up internal reconciliation commissions? Are the Government aware that Nicaragua was the first of those countries to do so and that Cardinal Obando, commonly regarded as the leader of the Right in Nicaragua, has accepted the chairmanship of that commission? Will the Government—

invite the United States to abide by the ruling of the International Court and stop its intervention?

My Lords, the answer to the noble Lord's first question about congratulating Arias is, yes.

My Lords, in his earlier answers the Minister said that Her Majesty's Government have made it quite plain to the United States Government what their policy is. What is the policy of Her Majesty's Government? In particular, what is their policy towards United States support and finance for the Contras in Nicaragua?

My Lords, that question has been answered innumerable times from this Dispatch Box. I have said that we have consistently advocated a peaceful negotiated solution to the region's problems. That is why we welcome the Central American peace agreement. We will continue to encourage the Central Americans to resolve their problems peacefully. There is a limit to the number of different ways in which that can be expressed.

My Lords, will the Minister take on board the valid point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, that there seems to be a changing attitude of mind? The peace accord is being welcomed in the United States. Even President Reagan has made some remarks to encourage it. Why do not our Government now say that he ought to encourage it, and indeed do more than that and be prepared to sign the treaty, which would achieve so much? The American people think that that ought to happen in Nicaragua. The restoration of many freedoms is guaranteed by that treaty.

My Lords, I really do not know what else I can say other than that we warmly welcome the Central American peace agreement.