811.24590/5–1046

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Bevin) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Dear Mr. Byrnes: With reference to the private conversations which we have had in Paris51 on the subject of bases I have now received [Page 43]from the Cabinet the enclosed statement of the position of His Majesty’s Government.

This statement represents the considered view of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and of the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

I think it well to let you have this statement in order that our position should be clear. I earnestly hope that even yet, in spite of difficulties, we shall be able to make progress. I am asked to assure you that these Governments are anxious to get to grips with this question and reach agreement.

Yours sincerely,

Ernest Bevin
[Enclosure]

During the present consultations in London the Governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have taken into consideration certain United States proposals for the future status and use of bases in the Pacific. The three Governments, whilst all desirous of agreeing to an arrangement on this matter that will be satisfactory to the United States as well as themselves, feel it necessary to have regard in this matter to their common interests in the South Pacific area. As the next step in examining this situation, the Australian Minister for External Affairs and the New Zealand deputy Prime Minister hope for an early opportunity of discussion with the United States Government in Washington in the course of their return journey from the present meetings in London.

Among the places which have been under consideration with the Dominion Ministers is the island of Tarawa and the three Governments recognise that special provision might well be made in this island to commemorate its capture in 1943 by the United States Marines in a feat of gallantry and endurance which has never been surpassed even in the annals of that famous force.

  1. The Council of Foreign Ministers met in Paris for the second session, first part, from April 25 to May 15, 1946.