747.47H/6: Telegram

The Minister in Australia ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

13. Taking advantage of Dr. Evatt’s presence in Canberra to attend conference between Australia and New Zealand I communicated to him yesterday substance of Department’s telegram No. 4, January 2 [8], 10 p.m.

Evatt was quite evidently annoyed and somewhat nervous over the communication which, at one point in the conversation that followed, he referred to as “officious”, a word which he subsequently withdrew. His first words were “of course, the complete answer to that would be ‘tu quoque’”.

By way of explanation he made it abundantly clear that Commonwealth Government had been extremely irritated because it had neither been consulted nor invited to attend Cairo Conference.6 To my remark that this Conference had dealt with military matters he immediately countered by statement that Conference had dealt with Pacific matters, that China was represented, and that he felt decisions such as the one dealing with the disposition of Formosa after the war should have been left to a conference of all the powers. To my remark that China looked upon Formosa as Chinese territory occupied by Japan, Evatt replied that, nevertheless, he felt Australia should [Page 175] have been invited to participate in a conference which discussed such matter.

Evatt then entered upon a long series of complaints regarding the treatment of Australia. He referred to his disappointment that Australia had been put off in regard to its desire to negotiate a trade agreement with the United States,7 going over the arguments set forth in his note on that subject dated December 17.8 He stated that Australia and New Zealand had been forced by self-interest to confer in regard to their position and that it might be expected that neither Australia nor New Zealand acting separately or together would consent to any disposition of Japanese possessions in the Pacific except as part of a general Pacific agreement. He seemed to think that our argument that the time is not yet ripe for a conference of all powers with territorial interests in the Southwest Pacific was specious, intimating that similar objection might have been made to conferences which the United States has called concerning food and relief, and stating that only when Australia sought to call a conference to consider matters of interest to Australia was such an argument advanced.

I saw Evatt immediately after the signing of the Agreement, which was made public only last night, and it was evident that he felt somewhat shamefaced and yet truculently pleased over the whole proceeding. All the publicity had been concentrated upon the negotiations as an effort to set up machinery for mutual consultation on problems of mutual interest, and it was not until he mentioned that Australia and New Zealand would not consent to any disposition of Japanese possessions in the Pacific except as part of a general Pacific agreement that I understood the reason for his attitude. When I left him I carried away the impression that he might shortly communicate further with me on this whole subject.

Johnson
  1. For correspondence pertaining to the Cairo Conference, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943.
  2. For discussions regarding trade relations between the United States and Australia, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, pp. 115 ff.
  3. For text of note, see telegram 230, December 27, 1943, 10 a.m., from Canberra, ibid., p. 117.