747.47H/53a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )

3500. During the visits of Prime Ministers Fraser and Curtin to Washington I have discussed with them, among other things, certain aspects of the Australian–New Zealand agreement. I told them that frankly this Government was considerably shocked at the tone and method of the agreement, certain parts of which were clearly directed against the United States. The agreement, for example, declares that the construction or use of military bases in the Pacific Islands does not provide any basis for “territorial claims or rights of sovereignty or control.” The agreement also declares that “no change in the sovereignty or the system of control of any of the islands of the Pacific” should be made except by agreement of Australia and New Zealand.

All of our information in regard to the agreement indicates that it is primarily the work of Dr. Evatt, Australian Minister of External Affairs. I have made it clear to Prime Minister Curtin that we do not appreciate Evatt’s attitude in connection with this agreement and also in connection with several other matters. Evatt has apparently been annoyed at not being invited to participate in the Cairo Conference and other important deliberations on the conduct of the war.

As regards the proposal contained in the agreement that Australia call a conference of powers with territorial interests in the Southwest Pacific I have again emphasized to Prime Ministers Fraser and Curtin our strong feeling that it would be inadvisable to hold such a conference at this time. The grounds on which we oppose such a conference are (a) that the war in the Pacific is still to be won, (b) that an attempt to deal with regional security might prejudice efforts to achieve a general system of world security and (c) that a conference now might interfere with out united war effort.

Prime Minister Fraser has expressed his willingness that the conference be postponed. Prime Minister Curtin was more non-committal. Undoubtedly, this is one of the subjects which will be discussed with Prime Minister Churchill, and Australia’s further action may depend considerably on the amount of encouragement which is received in London.

I hope, therefore, that you will make known to Mr. Churchill and perhaps also to Eden and Cranborne31 our views on this subject. We should appreciate receiving any further information regarding the British Government’s views. We are especially interested in knowing about any views which the British may have already communicated [Page 196] to the Australian and New Zealand Governments or which may be communicated to the Prime Ministers during their visit in London.

I am aware that the British consider the meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers very much in the nature of a family gathering. I hope very much, however, that it will be possible for you to be kept informed regarding the discussions between the Prime Ministers.

  1. Viscount Cranborne, British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs.