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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1453

Senator McMANUS (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. I am sure we are pleased to see that the Minister has returned to the Senate. He was present at the United Nations at a period of great importance particularly in view of the Middle East war, a war which at one time seemed to threaten to develop perhaps into a world war. In view of the importance of the situation will the Minister give us information as to the present state of affairs in the Middle East war?

Senator WILLESEE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister Assisting the Prime Minister) - That is hardly a matter for question time. One would not know where to start and finish. The situation is pretty well known. There have been 2 attempts at a cease fire both of which have at least been somewhat fractured if not completely broken. My own view is that this is not unusual, because if one thinks about it for a few moments one realises that it is not very easy to keep armies in position when they are scattered over wide areas. There is a tendency for certain units to try to get together again and as they try to move across, of course the fighting flares up again. The situation at the Security Council, the presidency of which for this month happens to fall on the shoulders of the Australian representative, Sir Laurence Mclntyre, is that several attempts have been made to achieve a cease fire. The latest information is that yesterday a joint resolution was put down by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America. One must remember also that simultaneously with the Security Council's activities- and Sir Laurence Mclntyre has been tireless in trying to get the representatives together, adjourning when nothing could be done, and finally getting them together again yesterday- Dr Kissinger has been negotiating directly with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I agree with Senator McManus that the problem in the Middle East, particularly the way the war started to blow up with both sides being fed by two of the great powers, had all the earmarks of what could develop into a world war. In spite of that I remain optimistic that the whole world realises the problems associated with the situation. I think this is shown not only by the Security Council but also by the interest the world is taking in the position. I understand that one member of the Democratic Labor Party has on the notice paper a motion on the Middle East war which may be debated this afternoon; and although this is a specific matter, if there is anything on which I can give information at that stage with the permission of the President I will certainly do so.

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