141 Brigden to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 344 WASHINGTON, 24 March 1946, 1.32 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

U.N.R.R.A. COUNCIL

I. Now that we are Members of the Central Committee [1] we shall inevitably be involved continuously in European Political controversies and in particular with Soviet. One immediate problem concerns Austria where, according to the United States of America supported by United Kingdom and Canada the Soviet occupying forces are requisitioning the best arable land in their zone and compelling U.N.R.R.A. to import food for other parts of Austria. I understand very confidentially that United States of America Congress is not likely to vote the remaining 600 million dollars of its second contribution unless this problem is now dealt with.

The Soviet Representative here objects that the question is beyond the scope of U.N.R.R.A. Apart from the Soviet bloc the French and Norwegians are uneasy about the discussion.

2. To avoid publicity as much as possible in the face of Soviet opposition the matter will be discussed first in the Central Committee or equivalent group. Questions of the same order will continue in the Central Committee after this session. A Sub- Committee of that Committee will continue also on the Supply Programme. Thirty meetings were held recently on the Programme to June 30th and such questions are highly political as between the Soviet bloc and the others. it was these new facts that created new difficulties for us in getting our motion for enlargement through.

3. We managed to win against the Soviet on that matter without antagonising them seriously but we cannot avoid making decisions on changing situations from day to day all of which develop out of political conflict. The problem of displaced persons has yet to come and will probably follow the same course as in London. [2] We have voted with the great majority against the admission of Albania as a member which was supported only by the Soviet bloc.

On the question of Austria referred to in paragraph 1 we shall support the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada unless we are otherwise instructed by you if for no other reason than that we feel that this issue can be no longer deferred and that U.N.R.R.A. should express its concern in view of its own limited resources and the world food position generally. We shall endeavour to avoid conflict where possible but you will appreciate that we cannot forecast actual developments.

It would be helpful if we could have your views if possible by Wednesday at the latest.

1 See Document 77. The motion to increase membership of the Central Committee from six to nine was successful, and Australia, Brazil and Yugoslavia were elected on 22 March.

2 That is, at the United Nations General Assembly where, both in Third Committee and in plenary sessions, Yugoslavia, supported by Byelorussia, Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union, had argued that the refugee problem was best solved by repatriation to the country of origin at the earliest possible date, preferably through bilateral arrangements between the countries concerned. Australia had supported General Assembly Resolution 8(I), which refered the problem to the Economic and Social Council with the recomendation that persons unwilling to return to their country of origin 'become the concern' of an international body as determine by the Council. See also Document 16.

[AA:A1067, R46/3/5]