154 Waller to Department of External Affairs

Savingram 46 MANILA, 22 August 1949, 12 noon Received 24 August 1949

SOUTH EAST ASIA UNION

Romulo has now made it clear that he will not press for a South- East Asia Union Conference until January. Doctor Evatt's suggestion that matter should be discussed by interested parties in New York is therefore acceptable. Romulo would have preferred a straight acceptance as he realises Philippine claims to leadership of the Union will be challenged and the general agreement may involve bargaining and concessions on his part. His immediate ambition is the Presidency of the United Nations Assembly and he would prefer to have no other problems in New York other than mobilising sufficient votes to secure his election. (Incidentally he is hoping particularly for Australia's support). If he secures the Presidency, he is confident that he can arrange the Baguio Conference. Cool reactions by Burma, Siam and the Indonesian Republic as well as our own non-committal attitude except in so far as basic principles are concerned do not, he feels, constitute a definite refusal. if he can play the hand his own way without Quirino joggling the cards, he believes he can succeed. As I suggested in the penultimate paragraph of Despatch 21/49 [1], he believes an occasion will arise between now and January which will make it impossible for any country which is even theoretically in favour of South-East Asian co-operation to refuse an invitation to a Conference. His present thought is that the fall of Hong Kong (which he regards as inevitable) will provide such an occasion and this idea has been discreetly tried on the press here. [2]

[matter omitted]

1 Dated 5 August 1949.

2 Australia was represented when the Conference of South and South East Asian Countries was held in Baguio in May 1950.

[AA:A1838/391, 383/1/2/8, ii]