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66 Cablegram from Spender to Harrison

Canberra, 16 May 1950

2154. EMERGENCY SECRET

Please pass the following message with the least possible delay to Bevin.

Thank you for the message you previously sent me through the High Commissioner1 from which I obtained great encouragement particularly your view that we should go step by step and gradually build up greater and greater degrees of assistance. That is entirely our view and I was counting on further instructions to your Delegation so that we could have some support for an immediate limited programme pending the coming into effect of the far greater programme your Delegation contemplates.

The Conference opened yesterday and I have had various discussions with heads of Delegations.2 I find your Delegation is able to do little in the way of immediate assistance made tangible by the concept of a small Fund.

I am most concerned because it looks on the basis of present instructions that there can be no outcome of this Conference except resolutions which will not be regarded as advancement on Colombo, and in fact may be interpreted as being a more restricted viewpoint than the Colombo resolutions themselves which were broad and far reaching and had the virtue of calling attention to the immediate problem in South-East Asia.

Moreover the results o f the Sydney Conference will appear to the world a complete anticlimax following on statements which have emerged from the Big Three discussions3 which you have just completed. Finally the reaction in the United States of America will be most unfortunate. We have reason to believe that unless a kind of short term programme including a Fund and some machinery for its administration is agreed in Sydney it will be most difficult to induce the United States to co-operate in the immediate future with British Commonwealth initiative in South-East Asia on any large scale.

It is only in these circumstances that I approach you again and seek your personal attention to the Sydney discussions. I have expressed my position quite frankly to Lord Macdonald who is no doubt reporting the discussions to which I have referred and I have shown him a copy of this message to you.

[NAA: A3320, 3/4/2/1 part 1]

1 Document 64.

2 The leaders of the delegations were Spender (Australia), R.W. Mayhew, Canadian Minister of Fisheries (Canada), Jayewardene (Ceylon), Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar (India), Doidge (New Zealand), Chaudri Khan (Pakistan) and Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, UK Paymaster-General.

3 Discussions between the United States, the United Kingdom and France took place from 12-14 May.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History