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56 Cablegram from Australian Government to Gordon Walker

Canberra, 3 May 1950

105. RESTRICTED

The United Kingdom Government has drawn to our attention the possibility of questions being raised at the Sixth Session of ECAFE as to the relationship between ECAFE and the Sydney meeting of the Consultative Committee.

2. The United Kingdom Government considers that it would be appropriate if the Australian representative at ECAFE were to take the initiative and reply in the following terms to any questions concerning the Sydney Conference:—

(a) Any statement made should be as non-committal as possible.

(b) A short explanation should be given of the origin and broad objectives of the conference, pointing out that the natural objectives are to carry forward to the next logical step the conception of development of south and South-East Asia as embodied in the Colombo Conference Recommendations which have as their aim the raising of living standards of all the countries in this area.

(c) The practical nature of the committee's work might be emphasised and also our conviction that it will be able to make realistic estimates both of the needs of the area and of the resources available to meet them.

(d) The conference will underline the importance of self help and mutual help in any scheme for the raising of living standards in Asia.

(e) All nations taking part in the conference will do so on an entirely free and equal basis and there will be full consultation with the countries concerned before any of the conference suggestions are in fact implemented.

(f) No specific questions can be answered until decisions are taken at Sydney and publicly announced.

(g) An assurance could if necessary be given that the position of ECAFE would be considered at Sydney but any commitment should be avoided that use will be made of the ECAFE Organisation when carrying out the plans decided upon at the Consultative Committee meeting.

3. The Australian Government has been thinking along similar lines. Relations with ECAFE is an important subject for discussion at Sydney and we cannot anticipate the decisions there. We would wish however to avoid any impression, caused by a non-committal attitude at Bangkok that Commonwealth countries had already decided to bypass this Organisation. For that reason we would suggest that the representatives at the Council add emphasis to the following points at their discretion:

(1) the circumstances (close trading and financial relations etc.) which led the Commonwealth to take the first steps alone.

(2) that ECAFE's basic studies are of great value.

(3) that ECAFE will be kept informed, that the Commonwealth will be guided by United Nations principles and objectives and that the building of a 'working relationship' with ECAFE will be an important objective of Commonwealth countries.

(4) we should be glad to know whether you are in accord with this approach, in which case we should instruct the Australian representative accordingly.

[NAA: A1838, 383/1/2/4 part 2]

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History