195 Commonwealth Government to Attlee

Cablegram 119 CANBERRA, 15 May 1913

SECRET IMMEDIATE

Your telegrams 234 [1] and 280 [2] Post-War Commercial Policy. The Commonwealth Government appreciates the opportunity for an exchange of views before the United Kingdom Government's preliminary approach is made to the United States Government and is glad to learn that it has been possible to postpone the proposed date of the talks to at least the 15th June. On the assumption that this date will avoid any overlapping with the Food Conference the Commonwealth Government is pleased to accept the United Kingdom Government's invitation to take part in informal and preliminary and entirely non-committal talks at the expert and official level. The Commonwealth Government is very strongly impressed with the desirability of ensuring that any such talks should be undertaken with the full knowledge and understanding of the United States Government and that the date finally determined should not involve overlapping with the Food Conference. This is additionally important because of our difficulties in regard to representation and strong disinclination to withdraw any representatives from Food Conference, which we think might create a very bad impression.

For reasons which can be discussed with you more fully by Dr.

Evatt when he reaches London we are most anxious that every care should be taken to avoid any leakage in regard to holding of talks, which could be most difficult for us at this juncture. For this and other reasons we should have preferred talks to take this form of informal discussions between each dominion and United Kingdom rather than meeting which might be represented publicly as formal conference on limited and highly controversial subjects. It would further ease the position if the talks could be broadened in name if not much in substance to cover the general programme of discussion on matters arising out of Article (7) and perhaps the conclusions of the Food Conference.

We share your hope that it will not be necessary to open matters with United States Government until we have exchanged views, and trust you will keep us fully informed of any developments in this direction. [3]

1 Document 165.

2 Dispatched 10 May. On file AA:A989, 43/735/57/1. It advised that the Canadian and South African Govts had agreed to an informal exchange of views on commercial policy and suggested that the meeting should begin on 15 June.

3 Attlee replied on 20 May agreeing with the suggestions made by the Commonwealth Govt. See cablegram 112 on the file cited in note 2.

[AA:A989, 43/735/57/1]