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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2059


Dr GUN - My question is addressed to the Foreign Minister. Has his attention been drawn to a joint statement by the Foreign Ministers of India and Bangladesh proposing repatriation of Pakistani prisoners of war and of Bibaris living in Bangladesh, in exchange for repatriation of Bengalis now living in Pakistan? Has he noted that the Government of Bangladesh does not require the dipomatic recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan as a condition of this exchange? Will the Australian Government give diplomatic support for all such moves towards reconciliation on the Indian sub-continent?


Mr WHITLAM - The Australian Government welcomes the recent joint declaration which the honourable member quotes. It is a valuable attempt to break the impasse in re a.tions between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. While recognising the complexity of the issues involved, the Australian Government hopes that further progress towards a solution acceptable to all parties can be made. Obviously we are not a party to the agreement and we have not sought to play an active or an intermediary role. We believe that the position is developing fairly hopefully, and of course that is our wish; but we are not purporting to intervene in the matter.







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