Edward Heath, leader of Great Britain's Conservative Party, said last night that Europe must undertake a larger share of its own defense.
"No one can predict what the practical content of a European defense force would be," Heath said in his third and final Godkin Lecture, but he suggested that it might include a nuclear striking force based on present French and British nuclear capacity.
As the cost of maintaining a credible nuclear force increases, a European defense system may become more appealing, he told a large Sanders Theatre audience.
But until such a force is created, Heath said, Britain must continue to discharge its own world commitments. The most expensive way of saving money is to pull troops prematurely out of a country Heath said. He insisted that British troops must remain in those countries which cannot repel foreign aggression or prevent domestic insurrection, he said.
Heath said that the West should carry on "the greatest possible trade in nonstrategic goods" with Communist countries, including China. He said that this was the best possible way of stimulating the appetites of the citizens of these countries and leading them to impatience with a regime that denies choice to the consumer. Economic sanctions do not usually destroy revolutionary governments, Heath explained, but only make them more hostile.
Heath will return to Britain by plane today to prepare for an important political tour of England next week.