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Historical documents

140 Moodie to Burton

Minute CANBERRA, 29 December 1948

INDIA AND SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Developments in Indonesia [1] and China [2] provide a very good
reason why we should revert to earlier proposals for talks with
India, except that they should now be specifically related to the
South East Asian area.

The appointment of Gollan and his arrival in Delhi towards the end
of January would provide an excellent opening for his sounding
Nehru and one or two other Indian ministers. This would be
completely consonant with the earlier approaches we made in mid-
1944 and September or October 1946 after the Nehru interim
government had taken over.

It would be best to limit the talks to political issues of common
concern to our two governments. This would mean that we should be
able to exclude migration.

I could, at the same time, either independently or through our New
Delhi office, make approaches to two or three Indians who are in
touch with Nehru, e.g. Devadas Gandhi (Editor of the 'Hindustan
Times').

It would in any case be desirable for us to clear the air by
direct reference in one or two speeches early in January
(preferably by the Prime Minister, Dr. Evatt or Mr. Calwell)
regarding our desire for friendship with Asiatic countries and
telling Australians that, in the eyes of the Government,
discrimination or prejudice against Asiatics is wrong and
completely against our best interests.

At the same time we might consider making some gesture, e.g.

spontaneously offering India wheat over and above whatever
quantity was agreed on between the Commerce Department and the
Indian Food Mission. Both Sahay [3] and Gandhi made it clear that
wheat is our best selling card in India.

1 Following the breakdown of talks between the Netherlands Cabinet
Delegation and the Republican Government, the Netherlands
Government announced it decision to proceed with the establishment
of an interim Government without the participation of the Republic
and, on 19 December 1948, the Netherlands forces occupied the
Republican capital of Djokjakarta capturing President Sukarno and
other Republican leaders. See Volume 13.

2 See Document 226 and Part I of Document 229.

3 Vishnu Sahay, Minister for Food, Government of India.


[AA:A1068/7, DL47/5/6]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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