Cabinet Defence and Oversea [sic] Policy Committee, ‘Issue of foreign policy’, 1970

Cabinet Defence and Oversea [sic] Policy Committee, ‘Issue of foreign policy: A memorandum by officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’, 29 June 1970

“It will be important to ensure that, as Western Europe develops, it retains a close partnership with the United States. We shall wish to keep our special links with the United States, eg in the intelligence and nuclear fields, so far as we can, but we must recognise that unless we can find a new power base in Europe our influence in Washington is bound to decline and it will be necessary on occasion to demonstrate that for us Europe has priority. There is no real conflict here and no reason why our European policies should lose us American goodwill…”

“Probably the most difficult and dangerous current issue [in the Middle East] is the Arab/Israel conflict… There is no doubt that the continuance of the present struggle and our association in this context with the United States, and thereby with the Israelis, are proving economically costly to us. We have to find a way of reconciling these conflicting considerations”.

Persian Gulf section, noting UK military withdraw by 1971. “Even if we withdraw completely by the end of 1971 we would retain major economic interests in the Gulf area (as will our European allies and Japan) and a special and potentially embarrassing relationship with Muscat and Oman”.

Southern Africa: “We are likely to be faced with a continuing conflict of interest over such issues as South West Africa and the sale of arms to South Africa; and we will have to walk the tightrope between on the one hand the need to maintain our moral rejection of racialism and to avoid the damage to our wider interests which a direct clash with the Afro-Asians would precipitate, and on the other the need to preserve our economic interests in South Africa and to avoid the disastrous consequences of a resort to force against Rhodesia”.

“Colonial problems” section: “Enough remains of the Empire to cause us trouble. In all cases we are committed to give paramount importance to the wishes of the inhabitants as regards their future”.

National Archives: FCO 49/303

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