811.24500/4–1346: Telegram

The Chargé in Australia (Minter) to the Secretary of State

confidential
us urgent

52. Mytel 46, April 9, 4 p.m. I saw Evatt at end of talks with Fraser and Nash and he said that he had nothing very concrete to say at this time. He said the main purpose of the talks was to arrive at some understanding of what the two nations were going to propose at London next week for the defense of this region.31 He said he would rather wait till after London before he said anything concrete but that he hoped to meet Secretary Byrnes at Paris in May and there have informal talks after which he may go to the US.

I am told by officials who were in and out of the conferences yesterday that it was very inconclusive. They say that the New Zealand and Australian approach to the defense question is divergent yet not wholly unreconcilable. The former place Commonwealth before region with Britain having a leading role in Pacific defense arrangements while the latter place region first with US playing leading role. New Zealand because on final clause in draft agreement handed them by the US giving right to pull out at any time believe the US doubts potential future eastern enemy and so they want the “more [Page 28]reliable Britain”. Australia holds view that in spite of such clause the US will remain prepared and alert in Pacific and expects its view to prevail. It appears that Australia in particular and possibly both nations will hold to the following lines:

(a).
Resistance in bilateral agreements regarding single bases;
(b).
Resistance to individual places being declared security areas thus saving the trustee with respect to its control of the territory as a whole from the scrutiny of anyone except the body to which it makes its annual report;
(c).
Right of Australia and New Zealand to use any base jointly with the US regardless of which of former is trustee or sovereign;
(d).
A tripartite regional defense plan similar to the joint US-Canadian plan.

The last is Evatt’s pet plan for keeping US and Australia in closest association. He has mentioned it to me many times.

I am told that Fraser has spread some alarm as result of alleged claims by Dept for sovereignty over some islands and that this and other signs have caused them to suspect territorial aggrandizement, a frame of mind which fosters the policy of resisting exclusive US control over even the strips of water and land necessary for the actual construction and maintenance of bases, hence (a) and (c) above.

I had a brief talk with Nash and he, like Evatt, said he thought we would like what they eventually had to propose.

Minter
  1. Meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London, held April–May 1946.