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92 Cablegram from High Commission in London to Department of External Affairs

London, 6 September 1950

PRIORITY RESTRICTED

Consultative Committee

Your 4203 Paragraph 4.1 The Minister agrees that the least that should be done is to invite the United States to have Liaison Officer. He agrees to France and Netherlands being kept generally informed. We will advise C.R.O. direct.

2. Minister has written to Bevin2 arguing the desirability of approaching the United States at a high level before the London Conference so that the London meeting may be guided by United States reactions. If United States reaction were discouraging London meeting could limit itself to programmes that were within the power of the Commonwealth to finance. Argument was also used that failure to have frank discussion with the United States might create impression on the part of United States that technique of preparing a report ready for publication was designed to impose commitments upon the United States. Minister has proposed informal private discussions with Bevin and Acheson in Washington.

3. When told of this letter United Kingdom officials (Clarke3 and Thompson4) did not express immediate opposition but seemed to think that an unfavourable reaction from Acheson would leave the London meeting in an embarrassing position bearing in mind that any offhand opinion by Acheson could not necessarily be treated too seriously because American reservations now might be followed by a swift change of American policy as the consequences of the Korean conflict5 become clearer. The officials did not assert that any high level approach had already been made to the United States. They would not commit themselves as to the prospects of getting American support. Clarke mentioned in passing that the dollar earning motive behind the preparation of the development plans for South East Asia carried less urgency than formerly as a result of higher commodity prices, increased military outlays and the trend of the American balance of payments towards deficit.

4. Clarke confirmed that the United Kingdom have not made any decision as to the part it would play in financing development programmes. He agreed readily with the Australian argument that it might be impracticable in the course of the brief Ministerial discussions in London for Commonwealth Governments to commit themselves to any specific contribution towards development programmes. Canadians are apparently taking similar view. At same time British feel it essential when conveying report to the United States to offer some indication of level of United States support required. How and when this can be done will depend on time required by Commonwealth Governments to make their own decisions.

[NAA: A3300, 3/4/2/1 part 2]

1 31 August. In paragraph 4 Watt asked Tange in London to inform the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Department of External Affairs of Spender's views on the question of whether to invite a US liaison officer to observe, and of providing to France and the Netherlands general information about, the Consultative Committee meeting in London.

2 See Document 90.

3 Richard W.B. Clarke.

4 See footnote 2, Document 91.

5 War on the Korean peninsula began on 25 June 1950 when the communist Democratic Republic of Korea crossed the 38th parallel. United Nations forces, under the leadership of the United States, came to the defence of the Republic of Korea on 15 September.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History