Monday, Oct. 31, 1955

Atomic Good Will

Representatives of 17 nations gathered in Singapore's blue-columned Victoria Hall last week to take stock of the Colombo Plan's first five years and to chart a course for the next six.

Started as a mutual self-help scheme among British Commonwealth nations, the Colombo Plan has since expanded to nearly all free Asian nations, produced in five years an interchange of $2 billion worth of economic development. Donor nations, e.g., Britain, Canada, Australia, have poured in capital and know-how, while recipient nations have exchanged such experts and such know-how as they have, e.g., India has sent four aeronautical engineers to Indonesia; Singapore is teaching timber grading to a Nepalese trainee; two Japanese rice physiologists are scattering seed in Ceylon.

The U.S. was not represented when the Colombo Plan (named for the Ceylon capital where the plan was hatched) began, but the U.S. began to mesh its aid programs to the plan, by last week had spread almost $1 billion of help beneath the Colombo Plan's broad canopy.

In Singapore last week, the Asians, including many who regarded direct U.S. aid as somehow "immoral" but found it acceptable when distributed through the Colombo machinery, sought out the U.S. delegate, Foreign Aid Chief John B. Hoilister, to learn what fresh U.S. contributions might be expected.

Britain had promised to double its contribution (to nearly $20 million). Hollister had news even more pleasing to the Asian ear. Proposing that the Colombo powers set up an atomic energy research and training center, he announced that the U.S. is ready to give a nuclear research reactor and, later, a nuclear power reactor. Said one Asian delegate: "For more than a decade, Asians have looked to the atom as a symbol of terror. Now, perhaps, it may become for us a symbol of hope."