9 Evatt to Burton

Cablegram unnumbered SS DOMINION MONARCH, . 3 January 1949, 10 a.m.

IMMEDIATE CONFIDENTIAL

I have just received your telegram E128. [1] I have always favoured regional meetings and there is no reason why regional arrangements should not be made in accordance with the Charter.

You can check back to my public statements in favour of this principle.

2. It is important that Australia should not be backward in the matter as the initiative originally belongs to us. For this reason, as well as for security aspects of Indonesian question, attendance is desirable.

3. There is grave danger in limitation of proposal to Asian countries if this is based on racial discrimination and India should be so advised very strongly. Such a limitation would be quite opposed to United Nations Charter. My own feeling would be in favour of Australia assuming the initiative and not limiting subjects of discussion to Indonesian question. They might include other matters of common concern to region. Wireless today reports Nehru suggesting such a conference in New Delhi. Better venue would be Australia.

4. Indonesian question has and will cause serious repercussions against European powers with colonial possessions in South East Asia and lukewarm attitude of France and the United Kingdom will increase these repercussions. Asiatics will undoubtedly regard their attitude as indicating preference of these powers for European control in Colonial possessions against the interests of the Asiatic indigenous population. Australia is in a different position because we belong to the area and have fought strenuously for principles of Charter at every stage, a fact which is recognised by our outstanding position in United Nations Assembly.

This gives further point to desirability of Australian initiative perhaps jointly with India. Australia's future is largely wrapped up in friendship and co-operation with Asiatic peoples whereas European powers are in very different position.

5. If it is thought fit personal message addressed to Nehru might prevent plan going off the rails which might be very dangerous to the peaceful future of South East Asia.

1 Document 505 in Volume XIII.

[AA : A1838, 854/10/4/5]