216 Evatt to Chifley

Cablegram 162 NEW DELHI, 28 February 1949, 10.40 p.m.


The talks on Burma started to day and were completed late this afternoon. [1] Nehru and several ministers represented India, Bottomley and Malcolm MacDonald the United Kingdom. I attended accompanied by Gollan, and Ceylon High Commissioner was also present. Pakistan was not represented but a message from the Prime Minister of Pakistan indicated that his line would be very much the same as that mentioned below.

2. The question of financial assistance was never discussed and the United Kingdom suggestion on that line has been dropped. Nehru is anxious lest the Karens, (who are Christian) whose military position in Burma is fairly strong, should proclaim themselves an entirely separate state from Burma. Further, while the Karens are getting some sporadic Communist support, it is certain that they are themselves not Communist inspired.

3. The informal meeting was unanimous that a message should go to the Prime Minister of Burma indicating the willingness of the British countries represented to joint conciliation as between the Government and the Karens of Burma with a view to ending the fighting and assisting in establishing a greater stability in that country. It was thought that if the five British Commonwealth countries acted together a good effect would be produced upon the Burmese people and unity might be restored. A broad statement to this general effect may be issued late tonight by Nehru so I am writing immediately as I know that what was unanimously agreed on so quickly fits in exactly with your point of view, viz. support for mediation without the slightest financial commitment.

4. Gollan has helped with conference and if a joint mediation group is acceptable to the Government of Burma he would be able and willing to join it and would help to strengthen the Australian interests in that part of the world.

5. Finally, from the point of view of the public, the presentation of what was done is best described as a joint British Commonwealth attempt at mediation in difficult internal situation, the British Commonwealth countries acting together to assist a nation which formerly belonged to the Commonwealth and which may at some future time once again become one of its members [2]

6. I suggest a short statement by you on the lines of the present cable might be made in the House tomorrow. From every point of view the talks were successful. Any further talks at Delhi arising from to-day's meeting will be attended to by Gollan.

7. I am sending by bag the statement prepared mainly by the United Kingdom before I had arrived.

1 On 24 February 1949, Nehru had proposed that Dr Evatt, who would be passing through New Delhi on 28 February, should discuss the Burma situation with himself and Bottomley, together with representatives of Pakistan and Ceylon.

2 The Burmese Government in the event refused the offer of mediation and denied any possibility of Burma returning to the Commonwealth.

[AA: A9420, 4]