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Tuesday, 14 May 1985
Page: 1879

Senator BOLKUS —I refer the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs to the deliberations of the United Nations Security Council on 10 May and, in particular, to the vote on the embargo on Nicaragua. Can he say which way Australia voted on that deliberation? Can he also say what action the Australian Government can now take in view of the American Government's vetoing of the resolution?

Senator GARETH EVANS —On 10 May the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 562 on the situation in Central America. In the Council's debate Australia regretted the imposition of a trade embargo against Nicaragua. This is consistent with the statements that have recently been made both by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

During the debate our representative expressed understanding of the United States concerns in the region but noted the right of all Central American countries to live in peace and security, free from outside interference. He also recognised Nicaragua's right to choose its own form of government and called for support for the actions of the Contadora group of countries which is seeking a peaceful and negotiated solution to the conflicts of the region.

The Australian delegation participated actively in negotiations to promote a constructive resolution. So far as the actual voting is concerned, the United States delegation adopted the somewhat unusual procedure of requesting a separate vote on each of the 16 paragraphs of the resolution. The United States vetoed three paragraphs, including the key paragraph regretting the imposition of a trade embargo and calling for its immediate end. Australia supported all paragraphs.

The resulting resolution, although, accordingly, without a direct reference to the trade embargo as a result of the United States veto, was a positive result insofar as it amounted to a call for negotiations between the United States and Nicaragua and a re-affirmation of support for the efforts of the Contadora countries. Australia's future activities in relation to this matter will, accordingly, be in accordance with the tenor of that resolution to support such further negotiations and to continue in the way that we have to try to discourage a trade embargo of the kind that has been mounted by the United States and to seek a sensible political solution.