Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

Mr. Pearson1 came in to see me, at his request.

He said that the British Government had invited the British Dominions to go to London sometime next week,1a there to discuss the policy of international air transport. The Canadian Government had not been particularly interested in any such conference but had finally determined that they would send representatives to the conference. Their instructions, however, were merely to explore the subject and to make no commitments. The Canadian Government was pretty clear that it did not wish to join an Imperial transport agreement at this time. Mr. Pearson’s object in informing us was to make sure that we should not misunderstand the situation, and believe that the British Commonwealth of Nations were “ganging up” on the United States. On a personal basis, he handed me his memorandum, a copy of which is attached.

I thanked him for the information and said I was very clear that we would not misunderstand the situation.

A. A. B[erle], Jr.

Memorandum by the Canadian Minister Counselor (Pearson)

On September 17th the United Kingdom Government issued invitations to the other governments of the British Commonwealth to attend an informal and exploratory meeting in London on the subject of international air transport policy. The United Kingdom Government hopes that this meeting may be held early in October, and it is likely that a statement will be made shortly in the United Kingdom Parliament regarding it. Canada has accepted.
Before the United Kingdom Government issued this invitation, the proposed Commonwealth conference was discussed between the United Kingdom Government and the Canadian Government. Both Governments agreed that it was desirable to discuss the matter with the United States Government in order to avoid any misunderstanding of the purpose and scope of the Commonwealth conference. Accordingly, Mr. Churchill, when he was in Washington, discussed the matter with the President,2 who said that he saw no objection to such an exploratory Commonwealth conference being held.
Mr. Churchill also discussed with the President the possibility of some kind of international conference on air policy being held after the Commonwealth conference. The President said that a decision regarding an international conference should wait until the matter has been discussed at the forthcoming Anglo-Soviet-United States meeting.3
The Commonwealth meeting in London will be of a preliminary and exploratory nature. It is not expected that the Canadian representatives will at this meeting support or reject any specific proposal on the organization of international air transport after the war.
Mr. Churchill has informed the Canadian Government that he understands preliminary United States views on post-war international air transport to be as follows:
  • “(1) There should be private ownership.
  • (2) Key points should be available for international use on reciprocal basis.
  • (3) International traffic should be reserved to international companies.
  • (4) Government support may be required on an international basis for certain non-paying routes.”
  1. Lester B. Pearson, Minister Counselor of the Canadian Embassy.
  2. The Empire air conversations in London were held October 10–13, 1943.
  3. This discussion presumably took place during Mr. Churchill’s visit to Washington after the First Quebec Conference, August 17–24, 1943. Documentation on this Conference and on related discussions is scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume of Foreign Relations.
  4. For documentation on the Tripartite Conference in Moscow, October 18–November 1, 1943, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, pp. 513 ff.