44 Burton to Eggleston

Letter CANBERRA, 7 January 1949

Thank you for your letter of 5th January [1] enclosing a note addressed to the Minister on Indonesia.

I think that perhaps your judgment may have been a little bit different had you seen all the communications and in particular the text of the invitation from Nehru. The invitation makes it clear that the intention was for countries to discuss ways in which the Security Council could be assisted, and from other messages it seems clear that India is as concerned to avoid action outside the United Nations as we are.

The points you made were carefully considered before any decision was made. I feel that you may be unduly pessimistic about the general mood of the Conference, because our indications are that many of the countries, India in particular, wish to avoid useless, provocative demands and to concentrate on some positive suggestions, realising that anything they might do themselves is useless unless it secures the support of the United Kingdom and the United States.

You might prove correct, but my own feeling at the moment is that we are in little danger of embarrassment through attendance, particularly on the status which has been agreed, whereas our embarrassment would have been extreme had we refused.

With regard to our relations with the Security Council, I do not think it is a matter of us submitting the question for its decision and accepting the verdict even though it is an adverse one. The point is there has been no verdict. Nor do I see any objection to a matter being discussed by a regional body or even a regional conference at the same time as the Security Council is discussing it, as that was clearly contemplated in Chapter 8 which provides for consultation between the Security Council and regional bodies. Admittedly, this Chapter is badly drafted and the meaning is not clear as it might apply to this present circumstance, but I think the general principles are clear and India agrees with our interpretation of them. Certainly there is no question of us joining Asiatic nations in defying the decisions of the Security Council.

The Prime Minister is, of course, in Tasmania and presumably your note was written before the decision was made, but I shall nevertheless see that it is drawn to the Minister's attention.

1 Document 20.

[AA : A1838, 383/1/25]