194 High Commission in New Delhi to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 100 NEW DELHI, 4 February 1949, 8.55 p.m.

SECRET

In conversation with us today, the United Kingdom High Commissioner (Sir Archibald [Nye] [1]) referred to the Asian Conference, the usefulness of the Australian contribution to which he concedes. He described the conference both as a challenge and an opportunity, his personal view being that while the broad implications of it are at first sight opposed to the Colonial interests of Western European countries, those same countries may discover that the Asian bloc or blocs emerging from it, will provide protection against Soviet expansion. He also thinks the machinery for consultations, such as that proposed by Bajpai, may operate as a brake against extremism on the part of individual Asian countries. Again expressing his personal opinion, he thought Australian participation in this field is all to the good, adding that this makes for a sensible treatment of the issues. He concluded that South East Asia could no longer be disregarded by policy makers. The tendency of the Foreign Office had been to stand on one foot, and to concentrate on other areas, especially Europe. He feels they must henceforth stand on two feet and achieve a balance by taking Asia fully into their calculations.

2. [Nye] remarked in passing that Foreign diplomatists in Delhi had at first treated the Asian Conference lightly, but as things progressed, had come to realise its significance.

3. We mentioned the situation of Burma. He regards that country as having been in a parlous state financially and politically for the past six months, with Burma treating the situation in a characteristically light-hearted manner. He sees no active Russian influence behind the Karen revolt. [2] He believes the arms and supplies they are using come from Allied dumps left there after the war.

1 Words in square brackets in this Document inserted from a copy on file AA : A5009/2, A7/3/13,ii.

2 Of Thai-Chinese stock but not an ethnically distinct group, the Karen peoples were located in south-eastern Burma. After Burma Achieved independence in 1948, a condition of sporadic civil war developed between the Burmese Government and various dissident groups calling themselves Karen.

[AA : A1838, 854/10/4/5]