London, 17 August 1950
Your attention is drawn to telegram No.157 from Commonwealth Relations Office1 concerning the dates of the ministerial meetings of the Consultative Committee.
2. As we see it, the only reason for opposition to our proposal for deferment is convenience of Ministers who may be attending Bank and Fund meetings.2 We would be interested to know which delegates United Kingdom has in mind. Indonesia, Burma and New Zealand will not be attending Paris, and Australian representation at London will not be affected by Paris meeting.
3. We are inclined to think that it will be necessary for Australia to accept the dates proposed, but before doing so would appreciate any further background you can give on United Kingdom views (including Foreign Office) as to how, under the present timetable, the non-Commonwealth countries of South-East Asia can be brought into a development programme in which the United States plays a major part. The present situation is that Burma is expressing doubts on a number of technical points which probably reflect their hesitations on political grounds; Thailand has yet to make a decision; Indonesia has referred the question to the new government but Hatta commented earlier that their interests might be best served by direct negotiations for aid rather than by joining intergovernmental arrangements which had political implications.
4. Our own tentative thinking is that attendance of the governments at London and their consent to inclusion in the report of some factual material concerning their economies would be a useful first step if nothing better can be achieved. The main objective however is to get their participation to the point at which it will attract enlarged and continuous United States assistance. We gather United Kingdom have been thinking in terms of a continuing inter-governmental organisation for the area. In view of hesitant response by countries in the area, this may have to be reconsidered. We would like to know whether the United Kingdom has any lead from United States to whether:
(a) creation of an inter-governmental organisation (analogous with O.E.E.C.) would be indispensable for American assistance; and
(b) it must necessarily be separate from E.C.A.F.E. (of which all the governments except Ceylon are at present members).
5. One tangible although limited way in which it could be demonstrated to the Americans that the countries of the area are prepared to join in machinery of co-operation would be to obtain their participation in the proposed Council for Technical Assistance as recommended by the Colombo Committee. We would think that it would be easier to get their co-operation in this field than in the broader plan of economic development because these objectives and mutual obligations are more clear cut and limited. Minister has already indicated to us his view that London meeting should decide to make an immediate approach to non-Commonwealth governments to join in the Technical Assistance Council.
6. We are being advised from time to time by the United Kingdom High Commissioner's Office here of the United Kingdom attitude on these questions, but it would be helpful to have this supplemented with any elaboration of United Kingdom departmental views which you can give.
[NAA: A5460, 301/5]