The Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson) to the Under Secretary of State (Acheson)

top secret

Mr. Walter Nash, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has indicated that he will at least touch on the question of bases in his conversation with you at 3:15 this afternoon.

[Page 47]

The only base in New Zealand territory in which the United States Government wishes to acquire rights is in Western Samoa, a New Zealand mandate. The United States built an airfield there during the war and spent several million dollars on defense installations. We desire joint operating rights with New Zealand.

When Prime Minister Fraser passed through Washington in February, at the Secretary’s request, I discussed this matter with him in great detail and handed him proposals outlining in detail the United States objectives.61 Mr. Fraser and Mr. McIntosh, Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, asked a number of questions and we had an extensive discussion. I asked a couple of the high ranking officers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to go over the whole field of the United States strategic concept of the Pacific. Mr. Fraser told us that he would wish to talk to the Australians about our proposals, but that so far as he was concerned he was “99% in agreement”.

Dr. Evatt presumably broached to Mr. Fraser later on his idea of a regional defense arrangement of the Southwest Pacific. I believe we have talked Dr. Evatt out of this idea. We oppose a regional defense arrangement because: (1) it is unnecessary at this time (2) it would set an exceedingly bad example which might be followed elsewhere in the world to our disadvantage and to the disadvantage of the United Nations.

If Mr. Nash wishes to discuss details of our base proposals regarding Western Samoa or other aspects of the base question, I will, if you wish, be glad to talk to him and if necessary to bring in some officers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to answer any questions he may wish to ask.

I believe you saw the proposals which we submitted regarding Western Samoa.62 They called for the stationing of no United States troops there in normal times and for the operation of the airfield and installations by New Zealand at her own expense, with the United States to have joint operating rights. Since Western Samoa is to go under trusteeship, our Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that the defense installations be under a strategic area trusteeship. Mr. Fraser was not too happy about that, but we indicated to him that we had no doubt that we could get together on this point.

John Hickerson
  1. See Mr. Hickerson’s memorandum of conversation dated February 27, p. 8.
  2. Presumably reference is draft submitted to Prime Minister Fraser the latter part of February 1946, printed on p. 3.