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Historical documents

221 Burton to Kevin

Memorandum CANBERRA, 5 May 1949

As you may have gathered from the press meetings were held in
London recently between various Prime Ministers to discuss the
question of Burma. Australia was not represented. The Prime
Minister had already discussed the matter with United Kingdom
Ministers making his position quite clear and saw no good purpose
could be served in attending any further meetings.

Apparently a decision has been made to give military support to
the Burmese Government and, in due course, to consider financial
assistance. New Zealand was associated with this.

For our part, we cannot see any merit in making over arms or
finance to the present Burmese Government, being quite convinced
that any arms that are sent will be sold, possibly to the
Communists, and any finances will find their way similarly into
the pockets of members of the Burmese Government. If the proposals
had been accompanied by a suggestion that a financial mission
should be sent from one or a number of our countries to take
charge, we would have felt more inclined to consider them. As it
is, however, the situation seems to be very like that when the
United States was sending aid to China.

Most of our reports, which are admittedly inadequate, would seem
to suggest that the Karens are far more developed politically,
administratively and commercially. We have not, at any stage,
heard any arguments why the present Burmese Government should be
backed against the Karens at the risk of creating a situation
which will be taken advantage of by Communist groups.

It was clear that Bajpai was disappointed that we had not taken
any active part and probably interprets our attitude, in relation
to Burma, as implying lack of interest in India's relations with
South East Asian countries. This is not so, but on the basis of
our present information our judgement is that it would be a
mistake to send armed assistance to Burma at this juncture.

You may care to use this as background informally in conversations
with Bajpai or his officers.

[AA: A5009/2, A7/3/6, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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