Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State to President Truman


The Right Honorable Joseph Benedict Chifley, Prime Minister of Australia, has arrived in Washington from London, and an appointment has been made for him to call on you to pay his respects at 11:45 a.m., on Thursday, May 9th.

Immediately after his call on you, Mr. Chifley will leave by air for Tokyo to visit General MacArthur49 and to inspect the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan.

The following matters of importance may be raised by Mr. Chifley during his visit:

1. Regional Defense Arrangements and Bases in the Southwest Pacific: Mr. Chifley gives his Minister for External Affairs, Dr. H. V. Evatt, a free hand in the conduct of Australian foreign policy. Dr. Evatt is an ardent advocate of a general conference on Pacific security problems and of a US–Australia–New Zealand joint defense scheme analogous to the US–Canada joint defense plan. He, therefore, has refused so far to consider the problem of base rights desired by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff except as part of an over-all regional defense arrangement. Documents prepared by the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee for the Secretary’s use at Paris, where Dr. Evatt is expected to broach this subject, take the position (a) that the US should oppose a general conference and an over-all defense arrangement for the Southwest Pacific as premature, inadvisable, and likely to encourage the USSR to advocate similar over-all arrangements elsewhere not to the advantage of the United Nations or the US; (b) that the US regards the question of base rights as independent of a regional arrangement, and primarily a matter of the US being accorded rights desired by the Joint Chiefs of Staff at locations used and developed at US expense during the war,50 and (c) that the US prefers to proceed with discussions based on proposals already before the Australian, New Zealand and British Governments.

The only area under Australian administration where base rights are desired is at Manus in the Admiralty Islands, which are within the Australian Mandate of New Guinea. Here we are asking for an arrangement whereby the US may be accorded, jointly with Australia, military rights of use. This arrangement does not envisage [Page 42]the stationing of American personnel at this American-built base during normal peace-time conditions, but we would have joint rights of use. Furthermore, such an arrangement would not be inconsistent with a regional defense scheme which, in due time, might logically develop in the Southwest Pacific.

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Dean Acheson
  1. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander, Allied Powers in Japan.
  2. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended the acquisition by the United States through negotiation with the United Kingdom rights to military use of installations and facilities built and developed by the United States during the war at eight localities outside the Americas.