790.5/10–754: Telegram

The Chargé in Australia (Peterson) to the Department of State


123. Secretary External Affairs summoned Chargé October 7 to emphasize that Cabinet position re Australian ratification Manila [Page 933] Pact (External Affairs telegram 676 to Australian Embassy October 7) about which Australian Embassy would inform Department in strict secrecy was a position reached after great difficulty, that Cabinet’s stand re points 2 through 5 was quite irrevocable hence any representations for their revision would probably be unfruitful.1

Secretary said pursuant instructions he was handing Chargé letter 7 October as follows:

Begin verbatim. As I have already informed you, the Australian Cabinet has decided to ask Parliament to approve the ratification of the Manila Pact without any formal reservation on Australia’s part.

Cabinet had to consider carefully the implications of not making a reservation similar to that made by the US at Manila. In making this decision, Cabinet was greatly influenced by the fact that a reservation on our part was thought by the US Government to cause a risk of delaying, or even preventing, the ratification of the Pact by some of the other states that signed at Manila.

I want to let you know—and I should like you to convey this to your government—that the Cabinet was extremely critical of the speed at which the negotiations were conducted at Manila and of the fixing of a rigid timetable for the conference. The question of whether or not to make a reservation upon signature of the sort made by the US raised fundamental considerations of Australian policy which had to be decided by Cabinet during the conference at great speed and without full knowledge by the Cabinet of the intentions of other governments or of the interpretation which they were placing upon the obligations into which they were entering. We found ourselves in a situation where the time when the document would be signed at a public ceremony had already been announced before certain major policy questions had been considered, with the consequence that consultations by US [us?] in other capitals, for the purpose of ironing out difficulties, was not practicable. As a result, there is a strong feeling among Ministers that Australia should not allow herself again to be placed in the position of attending a conference where the deadline has been publicly announced in the early stages of discussion and before major issues have been considered. End verbatim.

  1. See the attachment to the memorandum of conversation, infra.