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Thursday, 10 March 1966

Let me turn for a few moments to India and Pakistan - two fellow members of the Commonwealth whose friendship we value highly and whose relations deeply concern Australia. The Tashkent Agreement of I ott January, concluded between President Ayub of Pakistan and the late Prime Minister of India, Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, has been followed by the withdrawal of forces, as agreed, by the scheduled date of 25th February, and by a further agreement to reduce forces along the ceasefire line in Kashmir to levels decided in 1949. These measures contribute significantly to the reduction of tension in the sub-continent and offer hope of improvement in relations between India and Pakistan, which is essential if the sub-continent is to tackle successfully its great social and economic problems and also its external security problems. The statesmanship and wisdom of President Ayub and the late Mr. Shastri in reaching this Agreement receive our fullest commendation and support. We also welcome the fact that the new Indian Government of Mrs. Indira Gandhi has made clear its strong desire to improve relations with

Pakistan and to secure lasting peace on the sub-continent.

I should like to make one observation on the side with regard to the Tashkent Agreement. The Austalian Government acknowledges the responsible and constructive role played by the Soviet Union in bringing the two countries together in Russian territory. The Soviet Government has recently shown some awareness of the dangers of unrest in the sub-continent, and of the opportunities that this offers to Communist China to meddle and to pursue its expansionist aims. It is perhaps too much to hope for any early extension of a helpful and responsible Soviet role to other parts of Asia and elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, differences between the Soviet and Western objectives are still acute. But in the long term we hope that some kind of broad common purpose in keeping the peace of the world will emerge.

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