Canberra, December 1950
U.S. Memorandum on Colombo Plan
The United States Government is fully aware of the aspirations of the countries of South and South East Asia in the field of economic development. It understands the need for such development and has independently given much study to the nature of the problem, its necessary dimensions, and the role which the United States might play in contributing to its solution. Participation of the United States Government in arrangements for continuing consultation on the development of South and South East Asia would be a natural consequence of United States interest and work in this area. It must be emphasised however that such participation would not imply approval or endorsement of particular development programmes which have been submitted to the Consultative Committee on South and South East Asia, or a commitment by the United States Government to provide financial aid for such programmes.
The United States Government believes that emphasis should be placed on continuing consultation and not on a formal organisation as such. It believes that it .would be undesirable to contemplate a substantial full-time Secretariat. Periodic meetings of participating Governments should be the means by which reviews of progress and other exchanges of information would be accomplished rather than through the services of a permanent central staff.
The foregoing would be consistent with the understanding of the United States Government that the functions of the Consultative Committee will continue to be exploratory, advisory, and consultative and that the Committee will remain informal as at present. It is the view of this Government that any material or technical contribution which the United States might make (other than that provided through United Nations agencies) would be directed bilaterally toward the recipient countries. It believes also that avoidance of duplication in various bilateral and United Nations programmes in any country will have to be worked out primarily among those concerned in that country rather than through a central organisation. It further believes that any reports which might emerge from the Consultative Committee must carefully avoid any implication of certification of relative needs of participating countries or any implication of endorsement of claims for external assistance.
The question of inviting the participation of other Asian Governments is of course for the Consultative Committee to determine. The United States Government believes, however, that it would be desirable that non-Commonwealth countries in the region be participants in the Consultative Committee if the United States is also to be invited, in order to avoid possible misapprehensions in the area of an exclusive Commonwealth-United States club.
On the assumption that the foregoing views are consistent with those of other members of the Consultative Committee and acceptable to them, the United States Government is willing, with the agreement of all member countries, to . participate with other Governments in future meetings of the Consultative Committee.
In the period immediately ahead, the United States Government intends to continue to study the programmes of the Commonwealth countries. In this regard it may informally seek additional detailed information from technical representatives of the particular countries which have formulated development programmes. This Government believes that other Governments which may be in a position to contribute to these programmes should formulate as specifically as possible the nature and level of the assistance which they contemplate.
[NAA: A5460, 301/5]