399 Mr R. A. Butler, U.K. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister (in London)

Letter LONDON, 11 April 1941

I attach a fair copy of the account of our talk.

I told Bruce [1] at a lunch at the Chinese Embassy on Thursday that our Prime Minister [2] feels that America must be in on any decision in order to make it effective. He therefore prefers the method of a joint talk in Washington.

I have told Eden [3] of all developments, and it seems likely that the question will be raised by him with you and our Prime Minister-perhaps at the Cabinet. There is at any rate a general desire to get something fixed up.

R. A. BUTLER

1 High Commissioner in London.

2 Winston S. Churchill.

3 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

Enclosure

Memorandum by Mr R. A. Butler, U.K. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

[LONDON], 8 April 1941

The question of our procedure in Far Eastern policy was discussed to-day between Mr. Menzies, Lord Cranborne [1], Lord Moyne [2] and myself The points particularly considered were (1) the question of exchanging mutual guarantees with the Dutch, and (2) the question of an approach to the United States Government for some joint declaration.

As regards the first point, it was generally felt that we should in our own interests have to resist an attack on the Netherlands East Indies and that the best course would be to recognise this fact and to propose to the Dutch (who had long been angling for one) a mutual guarantee of support. The Dutch would not include Hongkong in any guarantee given by them and might not be willing to include Burma. They should be pressed in relation to Burma, but if they would not include it the negotiation should not be allowed to break down on this point.

It was felt that the military position in the Far East had considerably changed in recent months and that the Chiefs of Staff might not see the same objection to a guarantee as they had found previously.

As regards the United States, the view taken was that the best procedure would be to approach them after having exchanged the suggested guarantees with the Dutch. The Americans could not give a straight guarantee to protect the territory of a foreign Power but some form of words could no doubt be found to indicate that it was a vital American interest that the affected territories should not pass under the control of another Power. The definition of the areas concerned would have to be worked out at Washington, but here again it was felt that the inclusion of Hongkong in any American declaration could not be expected.

[PRO: FO 371/27775]

1 U.K. Dominions Secretary.

2 U.K. Colonial Secretary.

[PRO: FO 371/27775]