530 Strahan to Garnett

Letter CANBERRA, 19 August 1947

TOP SECRET

I am directed by the Prime Minister to thank you for your letter (2/239) of the 4th August, concerning negotiations affecting the future constitutional position of Ceylon, and to assure you that the Australian Government has carefully considered in this connection the observations made by the United Kingdom Government.

The Australian Government notes that, in the view of the United Kingdom Government, the draft agreement upon external affairs is 'so worded as to involve no commitment, express or implied, on the part of members of the British Commonwealth other than the United Kingdom as to their relations with Ceylon in the field of external affairs.' Having regard to the circumstances attending the negotiations between the United Kingdom and Ceylon, the Australian Government is not disposed to raise any objection to the United Kingdom Government's proceeding with the draft Agreement on external relations and defence.

However, the Australian Government hopes that the United Kingdom Government bearing in mind that the attainment by Ceylon of Dominion status would be a matter of especial interest to Australia and the other Dominions, will give very full consideration to calling together in London, after the conclusion of the two agreements in question but prior to Ceylon's actual admission to membership of the Commonwealth, the representatives of the several Dominion Governments and the representatives of the new Ceylon Government, for the purpose of discussing their relations with one another and with the United Kingdom Government.

[1]

1 On 16 September the High Commission replied that the UK Government considered it virtually impossible to arrange such a meeting between the formation of the new Ceylon Government on 25 November and its effective independence. The meeting itself would be politically embarrassing for both Ceylon and the United Kingdom. It suggested that Ceylon might be ready at a later time to enter into similar agreements, collectively or individually, with other Commonwealth Governments.

[AA : A1838, TS160/1/2, i]