The Secretary of State to the Minister in Australia (Johnson)12
10. Please request an appointment with Prime Minister Curtin and hand him the text of the following message from the Secretary of State:
“I have read the text of the Australian–New Zealand agreement of January 21 expressing the views of the two governments on certain matters of common interest relating particularly to the South and Southwest Pacific region. I am, of course, aware that this agreement, in so far as it undertakes to deal with matters affecting territories other than those of the two governments, is wholly without prejudice to the interests of other countries. I am certain that both the Australian and New Zealand Governments are likewise aware of this and that they have no desire to affect the interests of other countries prejudicially.
“It is understandable that the Australian and New Zealand Governments should wish to reach agreement between themselves on matters of common concern and that they should wish to make their views known to other governments. I am frankly disturbed, however, at the proposal of the two governments to call an early conference of Powers with territorial interests in the South and Southwest Pacific to consider the problem of regional security and related matters. I have discussed this with the President and, while we agree that these matters must be given utmost attention, we have considerable doubts that it is yet time for discussing them at a formal conference of interested Powers. Our doubts have, I believe, already been communicated informally to the Australian Government. Despite all the progress we have made, the war in the Pacific has still to be won and, in our opinion, it has not yet reached the stage which would warrant the type of formalized discussions which appear to be contemplated.
“There is also the question of approach which should be carefully considered. In our opinion, it is necessary to agree upon arrangements for a general international security system before attempting to deal with problems of regional security. Any attempt to deal with regional security in the Southwest Pacific in advance of agreement on a general security system might well give rise to efforts on the part of other regional groups to make their own exclusive arrangements for security. Thus, such a conference as is proposed might in the end result in a number of independent regional systems and seriously interfere with efforts to achieve a general system of world security.[Page 178]
“We have also to consider the effect of such a conference upon our immediate war effort. The President and I have some fears that a formal conference of the interested Powers for the purpose contemplated would possibly do more harm than good to our united war effort. Such a conference might well arouse suspicions and possibly bring into focus conflicting opinions on matters which do not require decision at this time. We are sure you share our strong feeling that nothing should be done at this time to impair existing harmony among all the United Nations fighting together against our common enemies.
“We hope, therefore, that you will not take any steps toward calling such a conference until we have had an opportunity to discuss these matters fully together. I understand that you may be coming to Washington within the next month or two. The President and I look forward with pleasure to seeing you at that time and believe that your visit will give us an excellent opportunity for a full and frank exchange of views on all these problems.
“I am also communicating with Prime Minister Fraser13 in this sense.”