170 Noel-Baker to Australian Government

Cablegram 5 5 LONDON, 20 February 1948, 11.16 a.m.

SECRET

As you will be aware, Economic Commission for Asia and Far East decided at second session in Baguio to hold its third session in India and to defer until then recommendation as to its semi- permanent headquarters. In view of possibility that this question may be raised at Economic and Social Council we have since considered it further and have reached following conclusions.

2. We think that for various reasons acceptance of offer of a site in China or India each of which seems possible would not be satisfactory. Apart from other considerations India and China are on periphery of Commission's geographical area. We have therefore examined question whether as an alternative we could offer Singapore which is geographically well-suited to be centre of activity of the Commission. Site at Singapore would help to keep European and British elements of Commission in foreground and establishment of Commission in same place as headquarters of Organisation of Special Commissioner for S.E. Asia would facilitate co-ordination in connection with such of latter's present responsibilities as might eventually be transferred to E.C.A.F.E. Security aspect has also been considered and conclusion reached that there are no objections on this ground. We therefore propose at next Session of Commission to offer Singapore as semi- permanent headquarters. This would not of course commit us to acceptance of Singapore as a permanent headquarters if semi- permanent headquarters proved unsatisfactory.

3. United Kingdom Delegation have been authorised should matter be raised in current session of Economic and Social Council to seek to have question postponed till after E.C.A.F.E. has made a recommendation but if this fails, to offer Singapore if this is desirable in the light of any alternative proposal such as Shanghai.

[AA:A1838, 701/9/1, 1A]