60 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram D58 LONDON, 15 February 1940, 8.11 p.m.



1. It has been officially stated in Washington that the United States Under Secretary of State's forthcoming visit to Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain is being undertaken solely for the purpose of advising the President [2] and the Secretary of State [3] as to the present conditions in Europe and that he will be authorised to make no proposals or commitments in the name of the United States Government.

2. As the Prime Minister [4] stated in the House of Commons on 13th February, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will be ready to welcome Mr. Sumner Welles and to take him fully into their confidence with the object of assisting the President to form an estimate of the present situation. While, however, that is the spirit in which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will receive the Under Secretary of State, they are not without some misgivings as to the effect that may be produced by the visit in Allied and in neutral countries. It may well bring into open and vocal prominence those elements in public opinion in Allied countries, unimportant though they may be, who wish to abandon the struggle. Thus, while the restrictions in force in Germany will maintain a false appearance of unity, the freedom of opinion in the democratic countries might in certain circumstances create an impression of apparent disunity. The President's initiative is also likely to mobilise the sentiment which undoubtedly exists in neutral countries in favour of early peace, even though it was inconclusive and precarious.

3. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom believe however that in spite of these dangers the Under Secretary's visit may serve a good purpose if he can convey to the President a clear picture of the issues which are at stake, and assure him of the determination of the Allies to achieve the aims which they have set before themselves and have publicly proclaimed.

1 The copy of this cablegram circulated in Canberra was headed 'Received 15th February, 1940, 8.11 p.m. Sent 16th February, 1940'. This is clearly incorrect and the Prime Minister's Dept inward cable register (FA: A3635) confirms that it was received on 16 February.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 Cordell Hull.

4 Neville Chamberlain.

5 The number has been inserted from the register cited in note 1.

[FA: A3195, [1.1064] [5]]