Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Eastern Bloc Countries.

1.

asked the Minister for External Affairs if the Government propose to establish diplomatic relations with countries of the eastern bloc; and whether approaches have been made to him on the matter.

2.

asked the Minister for External Affairs the facilities which are made available by his Department to Irish exporters who wish to send exports to countries of the eastern bloc.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.

While suggestions have been made from time to time to exchange diplomatic missions with Eastern European countries, the position remains as indicated in my reply to a Dáil Question by Deputy Gallagher on 22nd February.

We have, of course, contact with the Governments of those countries through our Missions in capitals where both are represented. In so far as facilities for our exporters are concerned, these channels are used to ascertain market prospects and import formalities and also to assist our exporters in obtaining visas and making appropriate business contacts.

May I ask if the Minister for External Affairs has received any instructions or suggestions that he might explore the possibilities of this during his present visit?

Oh, yes, the prospect of expanding trade——

Or opening diplomatic relations?

It was announced today that the question of diplomatic representation as between ourselves and the Soviet Union was not raised in these conversations.