711.56346E/2–1951: Telegram

The Ambassador in Ceylon (Satterthwaite) to the Secretary of State

top secret

368. For Secretary and Under Secretary. Kerrigan of VOA this morning showed me instructions indicating that Department wants him explore possibility establishing million watt relay broadcasting station in Ceylon. As indicated my 367, February 191 I have instructed [Page 2020]him not mention this subject Ceylon officials until my instructions requesting permission Ceylon Government for construction large USAF transmitting and receiving radio stations can be clarified in view obvious confusion which would result from making two such requests at about same time.

Project for powerful VOA transmitter offers certain obvious advantages to Ceylon, probably requires service of only 25 to 30 American technicians and if based on pattern Salonika station would in no way be derogatory Ceylon sovereignty.

Bequest on other hand for USAF stations requiring almost 400 USAF personnel with no “quid pro quo” has little if any prospect being granted. If we nevertheless make formal request for authorization construct such facilities here it is extremely unlikely in my opinion that our request for either USAF or VOA stations will be granted.

Ceylon is indeed a small and helpless country but any misstep on our part in treating her as such may not only seriously upset our relations with all South Asia but also weaken British position here.

I had already in my 361 February 16 recommended postponing requesting for USAF station until completion VOA negotiations for leasing time on radio Ceylon and termination SOA conference.2 In view this new factor of desire VOA for powerful broadcasting transmitter I feel that question advisability making request for USAF facilities should be reviewed at top level in Department. Presence in Nuwara Eliya in few days of McGhee,3 Henderson,4 Warren,5 Merrell,6 Kennedy7 and myself gives unique opportunity for consideration this problem by those who will be most directly affected by any decision reached. I accordingly suggest you authorize me present this problem to aforementioned group with request they present their recommendations to Department.8

  1. Not printed.
  2. Reference is to the South Asian Regional Conference of United States Diplomatic and Consular Officers, which was held in Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon from February 26 to March 2. The agreed conclusions of this conference are printed on p. 1664.
  3. George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs.
  4. Loy W. Henderson, Ambassador to India.
  5. Avra M. Warren, Ambassador to Pakistan.
  6. George R. Merrell, Ambassador to Ethiopia; Ambassador-designate to Afghanistan.
  7. Donald D. Kennedy, Deputy Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs.
  8. In telegram 250 to Colombo, February 21, not printed, the Department of State authorized the discussion as requested (711.56346E/2–1951).