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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 1899

Senator McMANUS (VICTORIA) -Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs make a statement on the situation in Vietnam? Are reports correct that the scale of fighting has increased? Are predictions correct that shortly full scale warfare is likely to be resumed? Does the Australian Government have in mind any initiative to try to control the situation and to ensure that there is a real cease fire?

Senator WILLESEE - From time to time there is a flare-up of fighting in Vietnam. It is a very uneasy peace. Nobody is completely happy about it. Whether Vietnam is on the verge of full scale fighting I do not know. I do not think that anybody else does. The people to whom I have talked when I have been overseas do not seem to know any more about the matter than we do, and I even talked to representatives of South Vietnam on one occasion. We certainly would take initiatives where we saw that we could take them. But, as I have explained before, we were not in Vietnam at the time of the cease fire; the previous Government had withdrawn the troops. Therefore, we were not a party to any of the accords in Paris. Those people who were have a greater lien on taking initiatives than we have. I share all the worries of Senator McManus. It is an uneasy peace. Fighting is breaking out from time to time. I have talked to many people about the matter and they cannot tell me very much more than that. A lot of manoeuvring is going on. Whether this will break out into full scale fighting or what the result will be nobody seems to be able to tell.

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