25 Department of External Affairs to Kevin

Cablegram 3 CANBERRA, 5 January 1949, 9.20 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Your telegram No. 3. [1] You have received press statement [2] by Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) tonight regarding Asian Conference.

2. You will observe that the Australian Government is not sending Minister as suggested by Indian Government but officials. Care has been taken to avoid use of word 'observer' which press introduced here. If question is raised, you should let press statement speak for itself.

3. Would you please also take earliest opportunity convey following message on behalf of the Prime Minister to Nehru:-

'Australian Government is most appreciative of your invitation to an Asian Conference to discuss the Indonesian situation conveyed by a letter from your High Commissioner in Canberra, dated 4th January. In the absence of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) has conveyed a verbal reply to your High Commissioner and has explained the decision of the Australian Government to send two senior officials of the Department of External Affairs to the Conference to take part in an exploration of means by which the United Nations can assist the just settlement of the situation.

Although the Australian Government feels unable, in the present circumstances, to send a Minister of Cabinet rank to take part in the discussions, we should like to assure you that we shall be following developments at the Conference with the closest attention and interest.' 4. We should be grateful if you could also convey to Gollan, if not already in Delhi, the message in immediately following telegram. [3]

5. Please advise earliest possible date now fixed for Conference.

1 Document 2.

2 The Department of External Affairs dispatched, in a cablegram to Kevin on 5 January, the text of a press statement by Dedman announcing that the Australian Government was sending two departmental officers to the Asian Conference in New Delhi.

3 In Cablegram 4, dispatched on 5 January, Burton explained to Gollan the reason why the Government had decided to send himself and Moodie to New Delhi and asked Gollan to support the mission.

[AA : A1838, 383/1/25]