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90 Letter from Spender to Bevin

London, 5 September 1950

Today I had the opportunity of a discussion with Mr. Attlee before luncheon in which I expressed to him my strong belief that it would be desirable to have a discussion with the United States at a high level in which we would explain the reasons which led the British Commonwealth, through the Consultative Committee for South and South East Asia, to initiate the preparation of long-term development plans for this area, and say quite frankly that the attainment of our political and economic objectives depends upon the United States providing a relatively high proportion of the financial assistance required over the six-year period. By this course I would hope that the Commonwealth would obtain a reaction from the United States which would guide us in the Ministerial meetings which are to take place in London at the end of September and in early October and make it much easier for each of the Commonwealth countries to assess the prospects of the plan, and to decide what contribution it might make towards financing it.

It is my opinion that if we fail to have such a discussion with the Americans before the meeting of the British Commonwealth and other non-Commonwealth countries takes place, we may issue a report and a programme of aid which fail to win the interest of the United States administration and the Commonwealth will be embarrassed by its inability to carry the project alone. If we were to receive a discouraging report from the Americans before the London meeting there would be the opportunity at that meeting to confine ourselves strictly to what the Commonwealth could do alone. Secondly, we may risk a reaction on the part of the United States Administration against what they might consider an attempt by the British Commonwealth to impose a commitment upon the United States in the form of a report already prepared for publication.

I know that you will be in Washington prior to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.1 I should like to suggest to you that we might jointly discuss the question with Acheson on a private and informal basis. I shall of course be happy to discuss my ideas further with you either on the ship or in Washington.

[NAA: A3320, 3/4/2Z1 part 2]

1 The 5th Session of the UN General Assembly commenced in New York on 19 September.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History