350 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom

Cablegram 1590 CANBERRA, 21 February 1942

SECRET

Reference exchange of Missions with Russia.

1. New Zealand Government are now considering text of agreement for exchange of consul with Russia, and have asked our views. [1] We are asking them to discuss matter personally next week when New Zealand Delegation arrives here. [2]

2. Some time ago Eggleston strongly advocated Australian representation in Russia. [3] We have instructed him to discuss it with Russian Ambassador at Chungking. [4]

3. It is desired you approach Maisky [5] immediately with a view to general agreement by Russia for exchange of accredited representatives.

4. As you know previous Government favoured exchange of consular representations [sic], and we suggested to you despatch of representative Goodwill Mission. [6] Matter was then held up at suggestion of Cripps [7], because of Russia's military preoccupations.

5. Endeavour therefore to reach immediate general agreement on following lines: U.S.S.R. and Australia will agree in principle to exchange of Ministers: until it is practicable to initiate new system, Bruce [8] will be accredited by Australia to Russia and Maisky to Australia from Russia and direct contact between Ministers will take place in London. Appointment will be of interim character but will establish the principle of reciprocal exchange which each country desires and which will be fully implemented in the near future.

6. As we were the Dominion which took the lead in these exchanges, we would like to get the agreement approved before New Zealand acts.

PRIME MINISTER

1 See cablegram 55 of 17 February On file AA:A461, D703/1/4.

2 See cablegram 69 of 21 February on the file cited in note 1.

3 Minister to China. See his cablegram 92 of 4 February on file AA:A981, Soviet Russia 44.

4 A. S. Panyuskin. Evatt cabled Eggleston on to February: 'There is no reason why you should not make tentative sounding and report to us present attitude of Soviet Government.' See cablegram 38 on the file cited in note 3.

5 U.S.S.R. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

6 See Document 96, note 8.

7 Then U.K. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. See Document 115.

8 High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. Bruce reported on 24 February that 'Maisky was most responsive and indicated that in his view an arrangement down the lines you suggest would be both practical and effective'; Maisky had undertaken to communicate with his Government immediately and to give Bruce a reply as soon as possible. See cablegram 99 on the file cited in note 3.

[AA:A981, SOVIET RUSSIA 44]