Canberra, 25 January 1950
I am enclosing three documents relating to the meeting of Foreign Ministers at Colombo: the Public Communiqu�1 the Australian Paper on Economic Policy in South and South East Asia,2 and the Agreed Recommendations by the Foreign Ministers to their Governments on this subject.3 The latter two papers are secret, although it will presumably not be long before most of the information leaks into the press.
In due course we will be taking action on this resolution which, as you see, recommends that Governments establish a consultative committee, which would hold its first meeting in Australia. I hope in due course to give you and other posts a more considered statement on our attitude to the functions of this committee, but for the moment would confine myself to saying that I think we should continue to stress that:
(a) it is a piece of consultative machinery (in order to deflate the somewhat grandiose conception of its purposes being built up by the Ceylon and other Governments which would like to be able to announce to the world that an Asian 'E.R.P.' programme4 has been established with Australia as a chief contributor);
(b) representation on the committee would be at a level appropriate to this conception namely�High Commissioners or officials. (Unfortunately the press reports today that the Minister in Karachi said that he thought that Ministers would attend. Bevin already said this publicly and Makins5 was rather apologetic).
(c) an important purpose of the committee is to mobilise action by Commonwealth countries interested in the area, avoid overlapping with international agencies already operating in the area, and above all provide a basis from which an approach can be made to the United States seeking their co-operation in a way which will provide the least embarrassment to them.
The main purpose of this letter is to tell you that I asked Makins whether he thought we could have a copy of the survey on the economic situation in South and South East Asia which Dening had mentioned during his Canberra talks. Makins said he thought he could get a copy for us and would pass it to you. If you have no approach from him would you give him a reminder at some appropriate time. I do not expect overmuch from their paper, but nevertheless we here are badly informed on the situation in countries like Indo-China, Burma, etc., and are out to collect whatever information we can get.
[NAA: A3318, L50/3/2/28]