The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received January 16—4:16 p.m.]
537. Would you inquire whether Army, Navy and State Department have initiated studies with view to arriving at conclusion as to islands formerly mandated to Japan in Pacific which we will propose for trusteeship either ordinary or as strategic areas. I understand Far Eastern Office has already commenced study of general terms of proposals.
If not already arranged for I suggest that you put someone in charge of dealing with this question as far as State Department is concerned and have him pursue the matter with War and Navy Departments and Joint Chiefs of Staff either on a separate basis or through the State, War, Navy Coordinating Committee as you think best.
Am making this suggestion not with any view to using results of such study here at this meeting of the Assembly but rather more to see that we are prepared to put the matter to the UN at the appropriate [Page 553] time. It is possible that the question might arise at the next meeting of the Assembly and I feel we should be prepared to meet it.17
The Acting Secretary cabled to the Secretary of State in telegram 628, Undel 94, January 19, 8 p.m.: “Studies referred to … are being initiated on Monday by a committee of the three Departments.” (890.0146/1–1646)
On January 21 the Department of State cabled Secretary Byrnes in telegram 661, amplifying on the circumstances surrounding the initiation of the studies referred to in telegram 628 (501.BE/1–2146). The January 21 telegram also conveyed the following in a final paragraph drafted in longhand by Mr. Acheson and initialed by President Truman:
“The President believes that if it is possible without embarrassment to avoid a public statement and commitment at this time that would be desirable. He wishes to work out through appropriate sole trusteeship the control of necessary bases which the military services require. It may take a little time to get the appropriate forms agreed upon and pending this a public debate upon the question in this country will hamper rather than advance this solution. If this in any way embarrasses you please inform the President who wishes to support you in every way.” (501.BE/1–2146)
In the immediately preceding telegram (No. 660, January 21, 7 p.m., File No. 890.0146/1–1546) the Acting Secretary had cabled the Secretary asking that any action on telegram 519, January 15 be deferred “pending receipt of immediately following telegram. ….” As it happened, telegram 661 arrived in London in garbled form and the corrected copy was not received until some days later and after the Secretary’s departure from London (501.BE/1–2646).↩