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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2693

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs: Did Australia's Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr J. F. Cairns, attend a reception given in his honour by the South Vietnamese Provisional Revolutionary Government in Hanoi? What was the significance of the reception in Dr Cairns' 5-day trade mission to North Vietnam? Was it not undiplomatic for a senior Australian Minister to attend a reception given by a revolutionary government when Australia has diplomatic relations with the Administration in Saigon?

Senator WILLESEE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) -Yes, Dr Cairnsdid attend a luncheon or a dinner or some sort of entertainment given by the Vietnamese Provisional Revolutionary Government. The PRG, of course, was one of the parties that sat around the table in Paris and entered into agreements on the cease fire. As the honourable senator well knows, we have diplomatic relations with North Vietnam and South Vietnam but not with the PRG. Whether it was undiplomatic for Dr Cairns to attend the reception is a matter which I think only Dr Cairns can answer. I simply repeat what I said yesterday: In Dr Cairns you have a man who has been deeply involved in the whole question of the Vietnam war right from its early stages. He has written a couple of books about it. He was the host to the Vietnamese through an organisation to which he belongs when they came to this country in the early stages. During his visit, incidentally, he has told all the people involved that we are very concerned to support the implementation of the Paris agreements, that we want to maintain a very even handed policy in relation to both Saigon and Hanoi and that we would be critical of cease-fire violations by either side.

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