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217 Cablegram from Spender to Casey

Washington, 15 February 1952


Colombo Plan

I have seen Savingram No.8 to the Department from Ottawa1 and am taking the liberty of raising the following considerations since the Canadian approach to the questions of secretariat and aiding new members has caused me some concern.

2. My personal view is that it is essential to set up small secretariat, separate from the Bureau for Technical Cooperation, to serve the Consultative Committee and facilitate the exchange and coordination of ideas and information on problems before it. It would be most unfortunate to submerge the separate identity of the plan for economic development by associating the secretariat of Consultative Committee with Bureau for Technical Cooperation and placing it under the direction of Wilson. Department of State officials have indicated in recent conversations with members of my staff that they now favour the idea of a small secretariat. While they would be reluctant to ask Congress for appropriations to contribute to a new International Agency, they feel confident that the United States could make a contribution by seconding officials who can be on the Department of State's payroll. State Department views on form and functions of proposed secretariat are still, however, indefinite and they would be prepared to give careful consideration to any proposal we made. They have drawn attention to the need for avoiding any duplication of the activities of E.C.A.F.E. and feel that the availability of its technical sources should be recognised. At this stage I do not believe that they are committed to support of the Canadian suggestion for association with Bureau of Technical Cooperation. Moreover, United States is not represented on Council for Technical Cooperation.

3. Whilst I now understand Canada's repeated reluctance to extend her present financial commitments to include any new members because of its obligations elsewhere it is nonetheless, I think, an attitude which should be resisted strenuously. Adoption of this approach would strike at the very heart of the B.S.I.C.2 concepts underlying the plan and would vastly increase the difficulties of persuading non members to join. I would hope that it should not be beyond Canada's resources to include new members in the scope of her aid programme. I would think that the Canadian Prime Minister3 who has revealed a sympathetic interest in the Plan could be persuaded to that view.

[NAA: A1838, 160/11/1/1 part 1]

1 8 February. Repeated to Washington, the cablegram described a discussion between the Australian High Commission and Canadian officials in which the latter expressed the preliminary view that the secretariat for the Colombo Plan should be a 'modest establishment' attached to the Bureau of Technical Cooperation. The Canadians also repeated their assertion that Canada 'might find it difficult to extend her present financial commitments to include any new members'.

2 The word 'B.S.I.C.' should presumably read 'basic'.

3 Louis Stephen Saint-Laurent.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017
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