845C.00/1–2747: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Gallman) to the Secretary of State

us urgent

570. Embassy’s 533, January 25.20 Following is Laithwaite’s fifth report re Burma talks:

Laithwaite, tired but triumphant, said that he was “well pleased” with talk results which will be published tomorrow following Prime Minister’s full statement to Parliament. He said agreement is as outlined previously to Embassy and is being telegraphed in full to British Embassy, Washington tonight for early delivery to Dept.
At 11:15 p.m. last night when delegations had apparently reached agreement all points, U Saw and Ba Sein, who had previously given no evidence of their disagreement, announced that time had come when they must disassociate themselves from the agreement. [Page 8] They said they had kept silent up to now in deference to majority opinion and that if withdrawing at this point caused inconvenience they were sorry but they had misunderstood procedure of talks. Prime Minister and Aung San pressed both U Saw and Ba Sein for reasons for disassociation. Neither produced any alternatives but said that agreement “did not go far enough”. Further questioning elicited from U Saw fact that he would like to see elections held for legislature even though British Govt (Embassy’s 533, January 25, paragraph 321) and other members Burma delegation had reached agreement far beyond this point. Aung San raised question of immediate resignations of U Saw and Ba Sein but British said this should be dealt with after delegation’s return to Burma.
Commenting upon this last minute action, Laithwaite said that it was too bad that unanimity of Burma delegation had been broken at very end by their two politicians who desire to make political capital of their disassociation after their return to Burma. Their action probably will be seized upon in Commons tomorrow by Churchill22 opposition as a stick with which to beat Govt. Actually disaffection these two could not mar the solid work accomplished. As outside estimate he considered that Ba Sein and U Saw together do not represent more than 10% of politically conscious Burmese, remaining 90% being AFPFL or Communist sympathizers.
One section of agreement reads: “There shall be appointed forthwith a high commissioner for Burma to represent Burma Govt in London. HMG will request govts of countries with which Burma wishes to exchange diplomatic representatives to agree to such an exchange.” Laithwaite said that Burma delegation had accepted this, which might be somewhat less than impression conveyed to Dept by British Aide-Mémoire.23 (Dept’s 390, Jan 23.24) Actually Aung San has been informed of US acceptance in principle of exchange of diplomatic representatives and of US thought that agent-general or diplomatic agent might be suitable title at outset. China has also accepted in principle without comment. Siam has accepted in principle but without enthusiasm. As Laithwaite understands situation, Burmans have no fixed ideas regarding when, how or with what title their diplomatic representatives other than to UK will go abroad. Details re above will be worked out in Burma during coming weeks. Laithwaite said that Dening, Assistant Under-Secretary State, FonOff, wished to [Page 9] talk to Embassy about US intentions so that “We will not go astray on timing”.
Dening, seen immediately afterwards, expressed thanks for Dept’s acceptance in principle of exchange of diplomatic representatives with Burma. He referred to telegrams reporting conversations between British Embassy, Washington and officers of Dept in which Dept indicated its willingness to appoint its Consul General Rangoon diplomatic agent immediately upon announcement of a favorable outcome of London talks. He mentioned also a conversation in which it had been indicated in Washington that possibility existed of US ambassador being appointed to Siam in which case US might follow similar line of [in?] Burma. Dening said that while US course of action is entirely up to US, FonOff thought in circumstances announcement by US tomorrow of appointment diplomatic representative might be “a bit hasty”. FonOff considered in light of portion of agreement quoted above that every purpose would be served by US statement that exchange of diplomatic representatives with Burma had been agreed upon in principle. He thought it preferable to leave questions of time, title, et cetera, to be worked out later with Burmese Govt which, presumably, having now made informal approaches via British Govt would soon present through British Govt formal requests to US, China and Siam for exchange of representatives indicating rank they had in mind. He thought that after delegation returns Burmans might also discuss question with Packer. Dening said that he was telegraphing tonight to British Embassy, Washington to approach Dept in this sense. (Note: Thanks presence Andrus, Embassy has been in fortunate position to correct faulty impression given Dening by British Embassy, Washington that Dept is pressing for earliest possible exchange of diplomatic representatives and contemplated unilateral action this regard.)
Both Laithwaite and Dening felt that any publicity or comment favorable to new agreement would be helpful, particularly in light of disaffection U Saw and Ba Sein, and possibility Parliamentary debate. If, after seeing text of agreement Dept issues any statement, Embassy would appreciate receiving it telegraphically.
Rangoon may be interested paragraphs 4 and 5 above.
Sent Dept only.

  1. Not printed: it reported conversations with Laithwaite and MacDougall. The former had been informed of the Department’s attitude as given in telegram 391, January 23, to London, p. 6, and had assured the Embassy that he understood and agreed (845C.00/1–2547).
  2. This paragraph provided for elections to a constituent assembly only.
  3. Winston S. Churchill was leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons.
  4. Dated January 22. p. 4.
  5. See telegram 391, January 23, p. 6.