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Thursday, 19 September 1974
Page: 1232

Senator MULVIHILL (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the Minister for Foreign Affairs advise the Senate of the latest situation in Cyprus? Will he give details as to what steps the Australian Government has taken to contribute to the restoration of peace in Cyprus and to the alleviation of the hardships suffered by the people of Cyprus as a result of this tragic conflict?

Senator WILLESEE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) -The question is in 2 parts. It refers to the political situation and to the aid situation. At the moment it is a bit difficult to make an assessment of the situation, but the military cease-fire certainly appears to be holding. The Greek Cypriot leader, Mr Clerides, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Denktash, have been having talks. The most hopeful sign is a report that they have agreed to release prisoners under the age of 18 years. This is always a hopeful sign. It is always one of the first steps to be taken. Of course, negotiations are continuing at the United Nations as well as in various capital cities throughout the world.

In regard to the question of aid, as Senator Mulvihill well knows there has been a lot of interest in this matter. Initially we have given $50,000 to an appeal launched by the International Red Cross. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is opening an appeal. We do not know all the details of it, but we are very interested in it. Of course, the peacekeeping force which has been operating in Cyprus for 10 years is continuing and we make a donation of $100,000 a year to that body. Also, the offer to Mr Kurt Waldheim to supply troops to the peace-keeping force still stands. Of course, if that comes about it will be a fairly costly operation. Because a lot of goods have been gathered in Australia we have had representations as to how to get those goods to Cyprus and what aid we can give. It is a difficult operation because of the tremendous cost involved. But I have asked the Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones, to look at the possibility of Qantas Airways Ltd lifting the goods where it has space available. I had hoped that by now I would have received a reply to that request. I should have a reply to it very shortly. When I receive it, I will let the honourable senator know.

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