266 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 125 CANBERRA, 1 September 1944

PERSONAL & SECRET IMMEDIATE

Thank you for your cablegram No. 109 of 28th August [1] on the Dominions Office proposal in D.No. 1195 [2] for discussions on Defence co-operation.

2. As you know, the suggestion was made in my statement of 15th May [3] that a small Committee consisting of representatives of the United Kingdom and the Dominions should be set up to examine the proposals put forward for improvements in the machinery for Empire cooperation. The Prime Ministers subsequently agreed to consult their Governments regarding the establishment of a Committee for further consideration of the proposals arising out of the discussions at the meeting.

3. The Dominions Office proposals are limited to Defence cooperation which, as you rightly say, is a sphere in which we have developed much closer and more intimate contacts than those of any of the other Dominions and plan for still further developments. The four matters [4] which the Dominions Office suggest should now be considered are, of course, merely aspects of the wider proposals for improving machinery for co-operation, which were discussed by the meeting of Prime Ministers.

4. I would prefer that the wider issues be faced up to, but the United Kingdom authorities apparently see many difficulties in the way of arranging for their immediate consideration. I note, too, that the Prime Minister of Canada, in his reply of 30th August [5] to the Dominions Office proposal, has repeated the opinion which he expressed in London that these are questions upon which decisions could not be reached while the war was in progress.

5. My view in relation to Defence co-operation remains as stated in London, that is, the position of individual Dominions varies so greatly that it would seem desirable to avoid attempting to establish a uniform system of co-operation. I feel, however, in view of the initiative which we have taken in sponsoring improvements in machinery for Empire co-operation, that I should not object to the proposed discussions, provided it is understood that they would not prejudice the further examination of the general scheme of co-operation put forward in my statement of 15th May, and also that our participation should be under the general supervision and direction of yourself as accredited representative. I fully share your view that it would be unwise to agree to the matter being referred to a meeting of Service representatives, in view of the importance of the issues that are involved. Your association with the discussions would enable you to make it clear that we would not wish our present arrangements for liaison with the United Kingdom to be prejudiced in any way.

6. In view of Canada's attitude, I assume that the whole proposal for multilateral conversations will have to be further considered.

In these circumstances and in the light of the above observations, I should be glad to have any further comments which you may wish to make before I reply to the Dominions Office.

CURTIN

1 Document 262.

2 Document 257.

3 Document 152.

4 See Document 257, note 3.

5 Cablegram 147 repeated to Canberra as no. 14. On file AA:A5954, box 6.

[AA:A5954, BOX 6]