The New Zealand Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs ( Fraser ) to the Chargé in New Zealand ( Childs )29

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your communication dated 4th February, in which you conveyed to me a message from your Government similar in terms, I understand, to that delivered to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia30 regarding certain matters arising out of the Australia–New Zealand Agreement of 21st January.

Very careful consideration has been given to the views of the Secretary of State and I would be grateful if you would convey to him my comments on his note in the sense following:

It was the intention and the understanding of the Australian and New Zealand Governments, as the Secretary of State himself observes, that the 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 can assure the Secretary of State that neither Government had or have any desire to affect the interests of other countries prejudicially. They did, however, desire to make known in the Agreement their attitude towards other countries as a means of ensuring that future international undertakings might not prejudicially affect their own interests. In this connection the two Governments should, I feel, draw attention to the fact that they have twice within a generation been drawn into war by a chain of circumstances which originated [Page 189] on the other side of the world, and Australia and New Zealand would wish, in any discussions or proposals for the reordering of world affairs, that their own external interests should be given due weight and consideration.
I note that the United States “have considerable doubts that it is yet time for discussing” the problems of regional security and related matters at an early conference of Powers with territorial interests in the South and South West Pacific. In case there should be any grounds of misunderstanding between the two Governments and the United States it would seem desirable to comment on—
the attitude of the two Governments towards regional security;
the aims of the proposed Conference; and
the appropriate time for the holding of this Conference.

On the question of approach, there is I feel no fundamental difference between the United States point of view and our own. It was never contemplated that regional security should be dealt with in advance of an agreement on a general security system, both for the reason put forward by the United States Government and for the added reason that New Zealand and Australia do not consider that systems of regional security are capable of preserving peace. In view of the New Zealand Government, which is shared by the Commonwealth, the preservation of peace can only be maintained effectively under a world system of security and not under a number of systems of regional security. While the New Zealand Government make a clear distinction between an international security organization for the preservation of peace and systems of regional defence, at the same time they recognize the practical worth of a zone of regional—in the sense of local—defence as distinct from a zone of regional security for the preservation of peace. This conception is dealt with in clauses 13 to 15 of the Australian-New Zealand Agreement, and is linked up with the question of “policing” contemplated in Article V of the Moscow Declaration of October 1943.

The term “regional security” is nowhere used in the Agreement, and at any conference of interested powers in the South and South West Pacific, as suggested in Clause 34, the Government would wish to make their viewpoint clear regarding the limitations of regional security.

While the future security of both Australia and New Zealand is, subject to a general system of world security, dependent on the arrangements to be made for the control and defence of the South West and South Pacific areas, these will inevitably be affected by the interim arrangements immediately following the reconquest of the Netherlands East Indies and contiguous territories.

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Australia and New Zealand feel, therefore, that they must be closely associated with all decisions and measures taken in this important formative stage, and they desire, subject always to consultation and agreement with the other Governments concerned, that Australia and New Zealand should have responsibility either in full or in part for policing of vital areas in the chain of territories stretching through the islands of the Netherlands East Indies north west of Australia, Portuguese Timor, Dutch New Guinea, the Solomon Islands Protectorate and the New Hebrides, and the area eastwards across to Cook Islands and Western Samoa. The two countries regard it as essential that arrangements for policing in this area and elsewhere in the Pacific should be part of a general scheme and not be made piecemeal. They believe, moreover, that a zone of regional defence could be established by agreement among the Governments concerned, and for that reason suggested the holding of a regional conference for the purpose of discussing this question in addition to post-war development and native welfare.

On the question of the appropriate time for calling such a conference there is, I agree, room for difference of opinion. The force of the arguments put forward by the Secretary of State are appreciated. On the other hand, Australia and New Zealand, like others of the smaller nations, are apprehensive lest they should be excluded from any direct and immediate share in the planning and establishment of the general international organization contemplated in the Moscow Declaration.

For their part, the two Governments regard it as a matter of cardinal importance that they both should be associated in the initial stages with the elaboration of any such general international system. It was for this purpose that they declared in the Agreement that Australia and New Zealand had a vital interest in the “joint action on behalf of the community of nations” contemplated in Article V of the Moscow Declaration, and both were therefore ready, in the interval before the general organization contemplated in Article IV can be established, to assume responsibility as an interim measure for policing, or sharing in the policing, of such areas in the South West and South Pacific as might from time to time be agreed upon.

As I have already stated, they would be vitally affected by the interim arrangements following the reconquest of the Netherlands East Indies and contiguous territories and would therefore wish to discuss such arrangements as soon as possible.

Australia and New Zealand, in common no doubt with other powers, feel the necessity for clear declarations of policy at an early stage in regard to the post-war settlement, and the two Governments were of opinion that the time had come when they at least should state [Page 191] the principles which they regarded as essential for the protection of their own vital interests. They are naturally anxious that those vital interests should not be overlooked by the major powers in the establishment of any new world order. In this connection they would cite the action taken without their prior knowledge at the Cairo Conference in issuing a declaration regarding the Pacific and disposing of territories in that area.

I can assure the Secretary of State that I would welcome the opportunity of discussing with him and the President the question of the proposed Pacific Conference and that in the meantime I would have no objection to invitations to the conference contemplated in Article 34 of the Australian–New Zealand Agreement being postponed until after the forthcoming meeting of Prime Ministers in London. By that time full opportunity will have been given for discussions not only with the President but with Mr. Churchill and others.

I have [etc.]

P. Fraser
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Chargé in New Zealand in his despatch 168, February 25; received March 25.
  2. See telegram 10, February 1, 6 p.m., to Canberra, p. 177.