790.5/5–1354: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State

top secret

Dulte 66. S/SR pass Defense. I made an oral presentation to Eden of your Tedul 481 and followed it by an informal written summary.2 British accept Washington viewpoint that we should move forward concurrently on two parallel lines, and are prepared at once to make a start with the five power staff discussions, which they understand will be exclusively concerned with the development of military plans. They believe we should not commit ourselves, nor appear to commit ourselves, at this stage to the exact composition of the wider group which we would hope to eventually discuss Southeast Asia security arrangements; in other words, the second of the two parallel lines of action proposed by your Tedul 48. They think it would be useful to inform and consult the Colombo powers, Thailand and the Philippines, and possibly others, about the work of the five power staff. They doubt that Singapore is suitable, but also question Washington as the location, and suggested as an alternative that the first meeting might be in London.

We concur with all but the final suggestion. Washington is without question the most suitable place. However, I think the suggestion made [Page 792]to me by the Australian and New Zealand representatives, who have been our strong supporters in this entire matter, is worth considering; that is, that while Washington is the appropriate location for staff discussions, it might be valuable to have the first meeting at Pearl Harbor. To us this has an added significance, because it is the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief Pacific.

The British now take the view that a joint statement is not necessary and, in fact, not particularly desirable. As I mentioned before, so much has already been said that any agreed public statement might be an anti-climax. The Australian and New Zealand representatives here, on the other hand, have felt that some sort of announcement would be necessary. Eden and I together worked out the following, which the British could accept and which looks reasonably satisfactory to us in case a statement becomes necessary:

“Pending wider discussions of measures to support a stable peace in Southeast Asia, the Governments of Australia, France, New Zealand, the UK and the US have agreed that their military representatives should undertake an examination of the situation in Southeast Asia.

“This examination will be undertaken by existing staff agencies formed some time ago for the study without commitment to problems of common concern.

“The problems to be reviewed will be of interest to a number of other countries, notably the powers represented at the Colombo conference, Siam, the Philippines, etc. These countries have been informed of the intention to initiate this study and, during the progress of the work, will be consulted and kept informed.”

I assume that Washington will now take the initiative in getting these staff talks under way, but I would like to be informed at the earliest possible moment so that I can tell Eden. It is a purely technical exercise which must be done as a matter of prudence, and will be the beginning, I believe, of something of much greater importance.

  1. Dated May 9, p. 745.
  2. Letter to Eden from Smith, May 10, p. 761.