104 Legation in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 199 WASHINGTON, 21 February 1946, 10.14 p.m.

UNRRA Council.

1. We understand that the Council is likely to meet in Paris in late July or August to deal with the problem of transition [1] when it may make recommendations to the United Nations Assembly for September. Assuming that no third contributions will be made some financial liability for rehabilitation must continue through other channels. It is doubtful whether the bank for reconstruction would be suitable.

2. Meanwhile the March Meeting may make public sharp differences of opinion on relief food supplies. UNRRA countries supported by the Russians are demanding priority for themselves as devastated areas. Their chief grievances are over edible fats and oils the distribution of which is largely controlled by former neutrals.

3. Frequent conferences are being held-between UNRRA Committees and Combined Food Board Officers who endeavour to explain their lack of authority. [2] It is possible that UNRRA may seek allocations of food exports from member countries by some international authority and your delegation will need instructions. Detailed reports on the situation are en route by airmail.

4. We need your nominations for the Australian Delegation. Brigden could leave Savannah [3] in time to attend if desired.

5. Your 217. On the second contribution we had informed UNRRA that your reservation on its form probably concerns the ten per cent of free exchange. We have noted the telegram to you on this subject from London No. 1153 repeated here and await further instructions.

[4]

1 i.e. the transition between the relief and rehabilitation work of UNRRA and the reconstruction work of other U.N. agencies. It was planned that UNRRA's work would be completed in Europe by 31 December and in the Far East by March 1947.

2 The Combined Food Board in Washington monitored supply through a series of commodity committees. It had no powers beyond recommendation on allocation of scarce foodstuffs.

3 The international Monetary Fund conference was to be held in Savannah, Georgia, from 8 March.

4 On 6 February Cabinet had approved, in principle, a second contribution to UNRRA, subject to agreement between UNRRA and Australia as to the form of the contribution (Agendum 695A). The decision was conveyed to Washington in cablegram 217. Cablegram 1153 reported the U.K. Govt's desire that the bulk of its free currency contribution to UNRRA (10% of the whole) should be used within the sterling area; the Legation had apparently assumed that Cabinet's proviso derived from a similar Australian concern.

[AA:A3195, 1946, 1.4766]