Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)

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Participants: Mr. A. D. McIntosh, Secretary for External Affairs, New Zealand
Mr. John Reid, First Secretary, New Zealand Legation
Mr. Hickerson—EUR
Captain Dennison16
Colonel Tate17
Mr. Furber—BC18

Mr. Hickerson began the discussion by an account of Prime Minister Fraser’s conversation with the Secretary yesterday. Mr. McIntosh said that while it was perfectly apparent that we all wanted to achieve the same ends he did not feel that the impression created by Prime Minister Fraser’s interview with the Secretary that we were 99.9% in agreement was precisely correct. In further discussion with regard to the proposed base agreement with reference to Western Samoa and the trusteeship agreement both Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Reid continued to express concern at the idea of concluding a base agreement prior to the conclusion of the trusteeship agreement. They felt quite strongly that, if it were impossible to conclude the base agreement subsequently, at any rate the two agreements should be thought of as being concluded simultaneously. There was considerable discussion as to what the position would be if the trusteeship agreement failed of approval by the United Nations either because of parallel base agreement or for other reasons. Mr. McIntosh made it clear that, however anomalous the legal position in that event might be, it was perfectly clear that from a de facto point of view the United States would in effect possess the rights in which it was interested and [Page 9]that also New Zealand would, of course, have no intention of according similar rights to any nonmember of the British Commonwealth of Nations. He further made it clear that New Zealand would be in de facto control of the mandate and there would be no possibility of New Zealand relinquishing its authority over the mandate. When Captain Dennison expressed some concern lest in such a situation the United Nations Organization would possess some kind of actual legal right to interfere, Mr. McIntosh read Article 80 of the United Nations Charter and it was the consensus of opinion that, prior to the actual conclusion of a trusteeship agreement, the United Nations Organization actually had nothing to do with the question.

In discussion of the issue as to whether or not any part of the mandate should be declared a strategic area, both Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Reid indicated their continued distaste for the idea of having any strategic area at all. Mr. McIntosh admitted that his objections to the idea arose largely from the psychological and political implications which the issue would hold for the Prime Minister and for New Zealanders generally. He repeated that it would seem very ironical for New Zealand, which had taken such a prominent part in the trusteeship discussions at San Francisco and which had opposed so strongly the idea of strategic areas as distinct from ordinary trusteeships, to appear now to reverse its position and go before the United Nations and world opinion with the proposition that some part of its mandate would have to be declared a strategic area. Captain Dennison and Colonel Tate again went over the reasons for their feeling that the area was strategic and should be considered a strategic area. Colonel Tate felt that the question of the base agreement might arouse less comment if a strategic area were declared than if such an area were not declared. Captain Dennison and Mr. Hickerson said that it seemed perfectly clear to them that the trusteeship agreement could be so written that in effect under the application of Article 83 of the United Nations Charter the Trusteeship Council could in effect perform all of its usual functions with reference to native welfare and the carrying out of the objectives of the trusteeship system within any declared strategic area. Both Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Reid were considerably impressed by these arguments but it is obvious that they regard the idea of the declaration of a strategic area with distaste.

In a brief examination of the rough drafts of the base agreement and the proposed clauses for a trusteeship agreement, Mr. McIntosh said that he felt that the designation of New Zealand as administering authority was so self-evident that there might be no need of specific mention of that point. He also felt that the clauses by which both [Page 10]Governments agree to expedite the prompt conclusion of a trusteeship agreement were unnecessary. Neither Mr. McIntosh nor Mr. Reid expressed pronounced objections to the clauses with reference to the maintenance and the method of allocating costs of military installations, but they said that the matter would have to be looked into carefully. Mr. McIntosh had indicated earlier that New Zealand had no objections whatever to taking over the caretaker duties at the fields and the maintenance of the runways. Both Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Reid felt that the clause requiring the “approval of the United States in each instance” with reference to making facilities available to the Security Council on its call required very careful examination as it seemed to them somewhat incompatible with the Charter. Mr. McIntosh said that the clause with regard to the United States right to assume temporary emergency operational control obviously needed much revision and careful consideration. Captain Dennison broached the question of giving the United States exclusive jurisdiction over its civil personnel employed on the bases. Mr. McIntosh felt that this would cause considerable difficulties. It was also pointed out that changes in phraseology might be necessary to make it clear that armed forces under the authority of His Britannic Majesty (not New Zealand forces alone) should have the right to use the facilities.

The discussion with regard to the proposed conference at Canberra was brief because Mr. McIntosh was in full agreement with Mr. Hickerson as to the undesirability of having such a conference at this time. Both Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Reid indicated strongly more than once that they would advise Prime Minister Fraser that their view was that the United Kingdom would have to participate in any arrangements about bases in the Pacific and that the United Kingdom in their view should be regarded as a state directly concerned with reference to negotiating trusteeship agreements, unless the United Kingdom voluntarily abstained from taking such a position. There was some discussion as to precisely what had been contemplated in London with reference to talks between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and possibly France, with reference to base problems in the Pacific. While there was general agreement that a conference was inadvisable, no objection was expressed to the idea of informal talks on the military service level among the various countries concerned.

J[ohn] D. H[ickerson]
  1. Capt. R. L. Dennison, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Politico-Military Affairs).
  2. Col. Robert Tate, Assistant Chief of Operations Division, War Department.
  3. Holden Furber of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs.