173 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 321 WASHINGTON, 14 October 1940, 10.31 a.m.

MOST SECRET

Repeated to London 100.

British Ambassador [1] flies to England October 15th for fortnight's consultation.

Prior to leaving he saw the President [2], Secretary of State [3], Welles [4], Hombeck [5] today.

Regarding the Pacific, President says that it is unwise from the point of view of American public opinion (clear that this means election) that there should be anything that could be interpreted as commitment beyond international date line for the present. What United States has done lately (economic embargoes and recommending American citizens leave Far East) has a momentum that will last a little time.

President went on to say that he was keen to send a small force of fast light cruisers to Samoa, Australia, the Netherlands East Indies and Singapore, and that he was having conferences to ascertain practicability of this. Although the President did not say so British Ambassador got the impression that if this came about it would not be before November 5th.

The President emphasized importance [domestically] [6] of avoiding commitment and said 'We must let the situation grow.' President said that at some later date he thought it would be useful to have conference on economic matters between representatives of the Pan-American countries and of all self- governing British countries but he emphasized that this was not an immediate matter.

British Ambassador got the impression from the Secretary of State that fear of their being interpreted as commitments had killed staff conversations proposal for the present, at any rate in its original form. Meanwhile American Admiral Ghormley is [pursuing] discussions with the Admiralty in London.

Hornbeck, whose views are frequently ahead of those of administration, is keen that United States should take all steps now that will deter Japanese from going for Singapore imperceptibly [7] he is spreading this gospel in administration.

As soon as I can see the Secretary of State I propose to pursue with him proposal asking that at least Senior Naval Officer should fly from Australia if necessary as a temporary member of my staff to enable complete confidential private talks to take place here particularly on naval matters. However this could only take place if administration agreeable.

Nothing that I have seen or heard lately gives promise of any move useful to us coming from Russia.

President's 'no appeasement' speech on October 12th has been well received in press.

CASEY

1 Lord Lothian.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 Cordell Hull.

4 U.S. Under-Secretary of State.

5 Adviser on Political Relations, U.S. State Department.

6 Words in square brackets have been corrected from the Washington Copy On file AA:A3300, 10.

7 This word did not appear in the Washington copy, which read'...

Singapore. He is spreading...'

[AA:A981, FAR EAST 26A]