37. Letter From Secretary of State Dulles to Prime Minister Menzies1

Dear Mr. Prime Minister: I refer to your letter of March 16, 19552 enclosing the draft of a suggested statement which you would wish to use at an appropriate time in Australia.

I have taken advantage of your suggestion to tender my comments, which have been approved by the President3 and discussed by Mr. Merchant with Mr. Tange. I now understand that they are acceptable to you.

I know I do not need to tell you how fruitful I believe our talks have been nor how much I have enjoyed them personally.

Faithfully yours,

[Page 73]


During my visit to Washington I had valuable conversations with the President of the United States and other members of the American Government about our undertakings under the Manila Pact for the collective defence of Southeast Asia, and, in particular, on the defence of Malaya to which Australia attaches the highest possible significance.

Our discussions made it abundantly clear that in the general task of preventing further Communist aggression, the United States considered the defence of Southeast Asia, of which Malaya is an integral part, to be of very great importance.

It is to be expected that the military arrangements put in train at the recent Bangkok meeting will provide all of the Manila Pact member Governments with more specific information with regard to the best means for each country to contribute toward the defence of this area. I raised the question whether in the event of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand undertaking to station substantial forces in Malaya, we could be assured that the United States would be prepared to give us effective cooperation.

I was informed that though the tactical employment of forces was a matter which would have to be worked out in detail on the Services level, the United States considered that such effective cooperation was implicit in the Manila Pact.

I enquired further whether, because of the deficiencies in military equipment which have inevitably arisen from the very great pressure which exists upon our own resources of money, men and materials, we might hope to be able to look to the United States for military supply on some basis to be arranged.

I was assured that, having regard to what the Americans knew so well about Australia’s attitude and fighting capacity, they would be happy to take this matter up with our officials upon the basis of an accurate assessment of our deficiencies and a consideration of the ways and means by which the equipment position may be improved.

In brief, I feel assured of complete cooperation between our two nations in the defence of our common security and in resistance to any further acts of Communist aggression.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 439. Top Secret.
  2. Document 35.
  3. Hoover wrote:

    “During his talk with you on March 14, the Prime Minister said that, in getting Parliamentary approval for the plan to station Australian troops in Malaya, he wanted to be able to refer to the support and cooperation which Australia might expect from the United States. Secretary Dulles suggested that he put on paper what he would like to say and let us see.

    “He sent a draft to Secretary Dulles and invited comment on it. It seemed to require a few changes and the redraft, as approved by the Secretary last night and by Admiral Carney and Admiral Radford today, is attached. We are anxious to talk with Prime Minister Menzies on this again before he leaves Washington at the end of this week, but before doing so would like your approval of the new draft.”

    According to a marginal note on Hoover’s memorandum by Goodpaster, the President approved the draft enclosed with it (identical to that printed here) on March 18. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International Series)

  4. Menzies read this statement to the Australian House in the course of the session held April 20.

    In a memorandum of a conversation held with Tange March 19, Merchant in part stated that Tange had inquired if two members of the Commonwealth (apparently Great Britain and New Zealand) might be informed of the statement in advance of its delivery. “I said that I understood and that we would leave to the Prime Minister the timing and form of the disclosure of the substance of this statement.” In conclusion Merchant stated that later on March 19 the Secretary confirmed this understanding to Menzies in writing. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.4311/3–1955)