Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State
|Participants:||Secretary of State Hull, the New Zealand Minister, Mr. Walter Nash, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Fraser|
The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Fraser, accompanied by the New Zealand Minister in Washington, Mr. Nash, called at their request.
The Prime Minister proceeded to refer to the Australian–New Zealand Agreement of last January in which these two countries declared that the disposal of any enemy territories in the Pacific should be made only with their agreement and that “no change in the sovereignty or the system of control of any of the islands of the Pacific” should be made except with their agreement.
The Prime Minister said that his Government was not really open to the criticism which the circumstances of the agreement might ordinarily imply. I said I understood that this was primarily a movement initiated and led by Mr. Evatt, Australian Minister of External Affairs; that Mr. Evatt seemed to adopt methods similar to those adopted by the Russians a short time ago when the Russian Government was not satisfied with the way Great Britain was functioning in respect to Poland and also in regard to the second front—the Russians proceeded to put out a world-wide statement charging the British with the intention of negotiating a separate peace with Germany.[Page 192]
I said that this surprising agreement between Australia and New Zealand, which almost shocked some of us, seemed to be on all fours, so far as the tone and method are concerned, with the Russian action toward Great Britain. The Prime Minister and Minister both promptly replied that this was exactly the situation.
I then referred to the proposal to call a conference of the nations with territorial interests in the Southwest Pacific and spoke about the unfortunate nature of this sort of step while the war must still be won in the Pacific. I said that world peace plans must be worked out in advance of any regional peace or related plan. I said that I could not believe that New Zealand would participate in the spirit of this sort of thing in the circumstances and that I was glad to have the assurances from the Prime Minister that they did not desire to be considered either as active or leading participants, but that instead the Prime Minister is entirely willing that the proposed meeting be postponed.
The Prime Minister then inquired about when a meeting might be held to deal with military forces of the Southwest Pacific area from the point of view of security and defense. I replied that our military authorities should be consulted before any expression of views on my part. The Prime Minister said he fully understood this.
All the way through the conversation the Prime Minister made a general plea for understanding, friendliness and wholehearted cooperation in every important respect. He seemed to be embarrassed no little about this occurrence.