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81 Minute from Tange to Watt

Canberra, 3 August 1950

SECRET

Programme for London Discussions of Consultative Committee

We have yet to give the United Kingdom our comments on the proposed timetable (attached).

2. I understand that the Minister is prepared to fly back to London for the meeting commencing on Monday 25th. On the assumption that he leaves New York on the Saturday or Sunday, the Minister will have had only 4 days at Flushing Meadows�to guard against the possibility of inability to speak in the Assembly in these 4 days, we might warn the British of a possible request for postponement for a day or two of the London Ministers' Meeting.

3. There is a separate important consideration affecting the date of the meetings.

4. On the one hand, the British stipulate October 20th as the latest date to pass a report to the United States Administration: on the other hand, it now seems clearly unlikely that any non-Commonwealth country in South-East Asia will have a report ready by the time the process of official discussion starts on September 6th. In Sydney we assumed that actual preparation of plans might start by, say, the first week of June. Two of the three months before September 1st have now elapsed, and no non-Commonwealth country except Viet Nam has commenced the preparation of plans. Indonesia will take no action until after the new government takes office in about a fortnight. Burma is still cautiously considering the invitation to participate and, so far as we know, has not commenced the preparation of a programme. Thailand has still not committed herself. Vietnam is apparently prepared to makeup a programme. No reply has been received from Cambodia and Laos.

5. Our purpose should be to get South-East Asia into the programme. 1 fear that if they miss the London round of discussions the process of consideration is so cumbersome that the second round is not likely to be started for some time, and clearly by then it would be too late to interest the Americans.

6. The only escape that I can see is for us to put it to the United Kingdom that their deadline date of October 20th for submission of the report to the Americans be reconsidered and postponed three or four weeks to permit more time for the non- Commonwealth countries in South-East Asia to get their plans ready. This would mean shifting the whole programme of London discussions back three or four weeks: the discussions among officials would commence, say, September 28th, the first meeting of Commonwealth Ministers would commence, say, October 16th, and second general meeting of Ministers from Commonwealth and other countries would commence on October 23rd.

7. Such an arrangement would presumably cause the Minister no greater inconvenience than the existing one, and the work of the General Assembly Delegation would have to be adjusted accordingly.

8. Would you ascertain the Minister's views?

DateTitle of MeetingLevel of RepresentationFunction
Wed, Sept. 6–Sat, Sept. 23Commonwealth Programming CommitteeCommonwealth officials directly concerned with questionnairesTo consider replied received and to prepare a draft South- East Asia Report
Tues, Sept. 19–Sat, Sept. 23Senior Commonwealth OfficialsTo deal with any points arising on preparation of the Draft Report that require their attention and to deal with any other points arising on the South and South-East Asia Development programme in preparation for Ministerial discussion
Mon, 25 Sept–Sat, Sept 30Consultative CommitteeCommonwealth MinistersConsider Draft Report on South-East Asia.
Mon, Sept. 25–Sat, Sept. 30Officials of the Commonwealth Programming Committee and officials from non-Commonwealth countriesTo discuss programmes of non-Commonwealth countries and to incorporate them into the Draft Report.
Mon, Oct. 2–Sat, Oct. 7General ConferenceCommonwealth Ministers and Ministers from those governments outside the Commonwealth who accept invitations to participate in the programme
Mon, Oct. 9–Sat, Oct. 14Final editing and printing of Report of Ministerial Decisions.
Fri, Oct. 20This is the latest date for making available to U.S. Administration the Report of the Conference.

[NAA: A1838, 708/13/1]

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History