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Historical documents

92 Harry to Wheeler

Memorandum CANBERRA, 24 November 1949


As you will have seen, the Ceylon Government has issued
invitations to Commonwealth countries for a meeting of
Commonwealth Foreign Ministers to be held at Colombo in January
1950. This is the first in the series of regular Commonwealth
Foreign Ministers' meetings agreed to at the Prime Ministers'
meeting held in London in October 1948. Dr. Burton has asked me to
send you the following notes, for your information, in connection
with the Conference.

The invitation has been accepted by the United Kingdom, Australia,
India and Pakistan, subject to agreement on the exact date.

Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, while in favour of the
meeting in principle, have not yet definitely accepted.

No agenda has yet been agreed upon but Ceylon's invitation
suggests discussion on the 'general international situation'. The
invitation goes on...'it would not be possible to consider some of
these political problems in isolation from relevant economic
issues. We do not think that it would be practicable to extend the
proposed meeting so as to include Finance Ministers as well as
Ministers of External Affairs, but we think it would be advisable
that each Commonwealth Delegation should include one or two senior
officials competent to advise their Ministers on such broad
economic issues as may arise (though not in detailed questions of
supply). It would be useful if, without obscuring the main purpose
of the Ministerial meeting, these economic advisers could also
meet simultaneously among themselves to take stock of the general
balance of payments position of the Sterling Area as a whole in
the light of all that has happened since the Finance Ministers'
meeting last July.,
The Governments of the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan have
indicated their general concurrence with the above suggestions and
India has agreed that one or more advisers could, with advantage,
be included in the delegation to discuss, among themselves the
balance of payments position and economic aspects of political

1 Australia's delegation to the meeting, which was held from 9 to
14 January 1950, included Wheeler and Nimmo from the Department of
the Treasury.

[AA:A9790, 511, xii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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