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Wednesday, 20 March 1957

Mr CASEY (Minister for External Affairs) - This is, as I am sure the right honorable gentleman realizes, a very large subject, and in a week or so there will be a full opportunity to discuss in this House the whole range of international affairs. I would suggest, with respect, that that would be the proper time for a complete expose of this situation.

Dr Evatt - I agree with the right honorable gentleman. T am merely asking whether anything is to be done.

Mr CASEY - As the right honorable gentleman will realize, the Australian Government is in constant touch with the governments of Great Britain, the United States and Canada in regard to this most important and ticklish situation. I can assure him that all responsible governments have the matter in the forefront of their minds. There is constant discussion as to what can be done that will be likely to do more good than harm. At the moment I am, for reasons which I think the right honorable gentleman will appreciate, inhibited in discussing the details, but I should not like the Leader of the Opposition, or the House, to believe that the matter has been treated in any light-hearted fashion. Everyone realizes that this complex situation in the Middle East could conceivably lead to a resurgence of fighting. That is putting it in simple terms. One hopes and prays that that will not be so. I assure the right honorable member that the Governments that I have mentioned are in constant touch with a view to arriving, in the first place, at a temporary solution, pending a peace settlement in the Middle East which, one hopes, will be final and will resolve all the existing problems. I do not v think that I need apologize for not being able to say more than that publicly at the moment. I hope that by the time a debate on the general subject of international affairs takes place, I shall be able to say more.

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