92 Harry to Wheeler

Memorandum CANBERRA, 24 November 1949


BRITISH COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE, CEYLON-JANUARY 1950 As you will have seen, the Ceylon Government has issued invitations to Commonwealth countries for a meeting of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers to be held at Colombo in January 1950. This is the first in the series of regular Commonwealth Foreign Ministers' meetings agreed to at the Prime Ministers' meeting held in London in October 1948. Dr. Burton has asked me to send you the following notes, for your information, in connection with the Conference.

The invitation has been accepted by the United Kingdom, Australia, India and Pakistan, subject to agreement on the exact date.

Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, while in favour of the meeting in principle, have not yet definitely accepted.

No agenda has yet been agreed upon but Ceylon's invitation suggests discussion on the 'general international situation'. The invitation goes on...'it would not be possible to consider some of these political problems in isolation from relevant economic issues. We do not think that it would be practicable to extend the proposed meeting so as to include Finance Ministers as well as Ministers of External Affairs, but we think it would be advisable that each Commonwealth Delegation should include one or two senior officials competent to advise their Ministers on such broad economic issues as may arise (though not in detailed questions of supply). It would be useful if, without obscuring the main purpose of the Ministerial meeting, these economic advisers could also meet simultaneously among themselves to take stock of the general balance of payments position of the Sterling Area as a whole in the light of all that has happened since the Finance Ministers' meeting last July., The Governments of the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan have indicated their general concurrence with the above suggestions and India has agreed that one or more advisers could, with advantage, be included in the delegation to discuss, among themselves the balance of payments position and economic aspects of political issues.'

1 Australia's delegation to the meeting, which was held from 9 to 14 January 1950, included Wheeler and Nimmo from the Department of the Treasury.

[AA:A9790, 511, xii]