Canberra, 14 January 1950
Colombo Conference: Aid to South East Asia.
1. The Australian delegation at Colombo has prepared and circulated a paper setting out Australia's views on economic assistance to South East Asia.1
2. These proposals, which have been discussed with the U.K., will recommend the Commonwealth Governments to examine the possibilities of affording tangible and direct aid and of giving a high priority to South East Asian needs in the operation of international organisations. The Minister will stress to the Conference that the main tactical objective is to show a genuine willingness to meet the serious drift in the political and economic situation in South East Asia as a basis for an immediate approach to U.S. with a view to enlisting their active participation. The Minister will also suggest establishment of a consultative committee, possibly in Canberra, to consider reactions of the governments to co-ordinate a tangible programme.
3. The U.S. Ambassador in Colombo has already been informed of the general lines of our delegation's approach. The U.K. agrees with our delegation that it will be necessary subsequently to make a formal approach to the U.S. to participate in any scheme.
[NAA: A1838, 381/3/1/3 part la]