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Tuesday, 16 October 1956


Mr CASEY (Minister for External Affairs) - Perhaps 1 might be allowed, in answer to the right honorable gentleman's question, to narrate briefly the course of events in the past few days on this Suez matter. Last Friday and Saturday the Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, France and Egypt met the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations and had further entirely private talks, following which there were two more closed meetings of the Security Council - meetings in camera. The up-shot of these discussions, both in private with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and in the closed sessions, was a limited measure of agreement, particularly on the six principles, which I think are well known to the right honorable gentleman. They have been published in the press, and I think that I have actually mentioned them in the House. These six principles were incorporated in a new draft resolution which was put before an open session of the Security Council on 13th October - last Friday or Saturday, New York Time - by the United Kingdom and France. There were two operative parts of this resolution, one of which, incorporating these six so-called principles, was adopted unanimously by the Security Council. The other operative portion, which sought to get the endorsement of the Security Council for the 18-power proposals and which invited Egypt to meet them, at the instance of the United Kingdom and France, was approved by nine out of eleven members of the Security Council but was vetoed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Yugoslavia. Without entering into what might be regarded as any controversial aspects on this Suez question, I think it may be said that airing of this question in the Security Council has resulted as follows: - The Security Council, by nine out of eleven votes, which is a very large and impressive majority, approved the 18-power proposals. The geographical make-up represented by the nine members out of the eleven that approved the 18-power proposals is significant. That majority included representative countries of Western Europe, South America, the Middle East and the Far East. This is a substantial vindication, we believe, of the position taken by the majority of the participants in the first London conference. As expected, of course, the Soviet Union frustrated the formal acceptance by the Security Council of the 18-power proposals, in spite of that rather impressive geographical and other endorsement. The private discussions between the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain, France and Egypt succeeded in obtaining Egyptian agreement to some general principles. I say " general " because they cannot be completely and properly described as " basic " principles. Egypt agreed to some modification of her position. T think that that is all that it is reasonable to say.

So far as the future goes, on which the right honorable gentleman has questioned me, it is believed that the onus hereafter remains on Egypt. I cannot prognosticate as to how the business will be pursued from now on. Possibly - but this again is pure speculation - the Secretary-General of the United Nations will take a hand in approaching Egypt, on the one side, and Great Britain and France on the other side, and suggest a time and place for a further meeting to put flesh on to the bones of these six so-called principles, and so arrive at some possible solution of this matter. It may go that way; I do not know. As to whether the matter will come back to the Security Council, that again is a possibility, but I do not express any opinion on it. All that I think can be said is that we have now what we might call an agreed agenda for a meeting at some future time between Egypt on the one hand and Great Britain and France on the other hand which, I think, is some degree of advance at least. I hope only - and I think that this would be the view of the Government - that negotiations will go ahead with the least possible delay in this still explosive matter of the Suez Canal.







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