151 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 292 WASHINGTON, 1 October 1940

SECRET TO THE PRIME MINISTER

(Repeated to London 89).

In conversation with the British Ambassador [1] yesterday, Secretary of State [2] asked whether it would not be possible for United States, Britain, Australia and Dutch to have private staff conversations immediately on technical problems that would be involved in common action for defence, though he stipulated that these conversations were to be technical and not to concern themselves with political policy.

In my talk with Welles [3] this morning he said the same thing to me. Glad to have your early reply. [4]

British Ambassador is asking for earliest possible reply from British Government and is asking for views as to how best to carry on such talks. He inclines to think that London best meeting place but I think that although initial talks may take place in London between Britain, American, Dutch and Australian individuals who are there, I believe that Washington more central and more politic place for detailed talks. [Clearly] [5] senior Service officers from Australia and Netherlands East Indies would have to fly here.

I believe that if it can leak out in due course from Washington that these talks are taking place or about to take place, and if this can happen BEFORE 17th October it would have substantial relation to Burma Road affair.

In above connection I am urging the British Ambassador to seek authority to offer free joint use to United States for any defence purpose of any of Pacific Islands regarding which United States have claimed sovereignty from Britain.

CASEY

1 Lord Lothian.

2 Cordell Hull.

3 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

4 On 5 October Menzies replied that considerable military and political advantage would be gained from private staff conversations between the four governments and agreed that the best results would be obtained from a meeting at Washington. See cablegram 5 on file AA:A981, Far East 26A.

5 Corrected from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 38.

[AA:A981, FAR EAST 26A]