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15 Cablegram from Spender to Menzies

Colombo, 10 January 1950

13. EMERGENCY SECRET

1. The meeting of Foreign Ministers had its opening session this morning (Monday) at 10.30. Senanayake was appointed Chairman.

The Agenda for the week's discussions was fixed as follows on the understanding that Ministers are free to add additional items.

Monday :General review of world political situation (and economic aspects);
Tuesday:China;
Wednesday:Japanese Peace Treaty;
Thursday:South East Asia generally and Indo-China and Burma in particular;
Friday:Situation in Europe.

2. Officials are meeting separately to discuss the dollar question.

3. Bevin was invited to open discussions on the first item. His general survey of events in Europe since the war traversed the difficulties of coming to reasonable terms with the Soviet Union, and he admitted inability to see any prospect of reaching a reasonable settlement while the present Soviet attitude continues. He was inclined to think that the Soviet expansionism might now shift east from Europe where in his opinion it is now being successfully held. He stressed the importance of efforts by the Commonwealth to establish full co-operation with the United States so that there will be at least one world outside the Soviet Union.

4. Pandit Nehru expressed disappointment at relaxation of hope of a settlement with the Soviets and in common with other speakers underlined that economic measures especially in Asia were only practical from2 of international action which would check Communism by diminishing its idea of logic appeal, provided that such measures did not constitute interference in domestic affairs. In passing Nehru dismissed the idea of a Pacific Pact as providing no constructive way of dealing with the problems and perhaps worsening the matter because of the attitude of fear which it would denote.

5. I made a brief general statement taking up the somewhat vague statements that had been made about the dangers in South East Asia, and urging that Ministers return to their Governments with concrete recommendations as to what could be done by the Commonwealth in co-operation with the United States by way of economic aid. I mentioned our special interest in Indonesia and that Australia's approach would probably be to give tangible aid to that country to establish its new Government. I said that we would submit on Thursday more detailed suggestions on the subject of practical aid in South East Asia for Ministers to refer to their Governments for approval.

6. Arrangements have been made for a daily press communique. Delegates have been left free to keep the United States generally informed of the course of discussions.

[NAA: A1838, 532/7 part 1]

1 R.G Menzies, Australian Prime Minister.

2 A sign here indicates 'word apparently omitted'

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History