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Thursday, 29 November 1973

Senator WILLESEE - I have an answer also to a question asked by Senator Durack. I had this answer for him yesterday but it was in the form of a letter. A complaint was made last week that evidently he does not like receiving letters in reply to his questions and would rather have answers given in the Senate.

Senator Durack - Will I receive a letter?

Senator WILLESEE -No. A complaint was made last week, so I had the letter stopped. Otherwise the honourable senator would have received the letter yesterday. On 22 November Senator Durack asked me a question without notice about the South Vietnamese War College delegation. The following information is provided in reply to the honourable senator's question: In July of this year the Commandant of the War College raised with our Embassy in Saigon a proposal which he had put to the South Vietnam Defence Ministry that he and IS members of the College should visit Australia as part of a tour including Indonesia and New Zealand. The South Vietnamese Ambassador followed up the inquiry during a call at the Department of

Foreign Affairs on 2 August. It was suggested to him on a personal basis that his Government might give further consideration to the request before putting it formally. Our civil involvement in assistance to South Vietnam would continue to run at a high level, but our military disengagement was both recent and definite and a formal request would risk a negative answer. The Ambassador replied that he would recommend that the idea of a visit should not be formally pressed as the timing would seem inopportune. No more has been heard of the matter.

The last South Vietnamese War College visit to Australia was in 1970. As for the proposed 1973 tour, we have no knowledge of any South Vietnamese approach to the Indonesians. I understand that the New Zealand Government's position was similar to our own. I have no information about movements to Japan or Israel.

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