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1956: Hopes for Mid East peace mission

The British Foreign Secretary, John Selwyn Lloyd, left London this morning for a tour of the Middle East, Pakistan and India.

Before he left, he held a news conference to explain the reasons behind his whistle-stop trip.

The main purpose was to attend the second meeting of the South East Asian Treaty Organisation in Karachi, Pakistan where he will meet the leaders of Pakistan and his US counterpart John Foster Dulles.

On the way there he plans to stop off in Egypt to have talks with Colonel Abdel Nasser.


"Everybody knows that the Middle East at the moment looms large in our thoughts"

John Selwyn Lloyd, British Foreign Secretary

"There are many problems in the Middle East which I want to discuss with him," Mr Selwyn Lloyd told a news conference.

"It's been three years since I last met him and I think everybody knows that the Middle East at the moment looms large in our thoughts."

For the last seven years the armed truce between Israel and the Arabs, enforced in part by the United Nations forces, has been punctuated by raids and reprisals.

Tensions are extremely high as Israel is becoming convinced the Arabs are preparing for war.

Conference

Mr Selwyn Lloyd will try to reassure Colonel Nasser about the Baghdad Pact, a military agreement signed last year between Iraq, Turkey, Britain, Iran and Pakistan.

Colonel Nasser is strongly opposed to it as he regards it as another means by which Nato can dominate the Middle East.

The SEATO conference, due to take place from 6 to 9 March, aims to implement closer military and economic ties between its eight members - Britain, France, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Siam and the Philippines.

While he is in Delhi Mr Selwyn Lloyd will take the opportunity to discuss the current situation in Indo-China with the Indian Prime Minister, Jawarharlal Nehru.

In Context
John Selwyn Lloyd went on to support Prime Minister Anthony Eden in the Suez Crisis five months later.

Colonel Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal alienating Great Britain and France, which with the help of Israel invaded Egypt in October.

A ceasefire was forced on the three countries by the United Nations in November.

The Baghdad Pact was renamed CENTO (Central Treaty Organisation) in 1959 after Iraq pulled out and Ankara became its headquarters.

Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan withdrew in 1979 because they felt the US and UK were more interested in the pact as an anti-Soviet alliance than as a way of improving the economy of the region.

SEATO, the Pacific counterpart of NATO, was dissolved in 1977.

Mr Selwyn Lloyd was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1960 to 1962 when he resigned over his unpopular wage-restraint policy.

He was speaker of the House of Commons from 1971 until 1976.

He died in 1978.


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