303 Eggleston to Evatt

Letter CANBERRA, 27 September 1944

With regard to the offer [1] to me yesterday afternoon of the post at Washington, I am deeply sensible of the confidence reposed in me. It is indeed a tempting offer in view of the magnitude of the issues which will be dealt with during the period suggested. I am, as you know, anxious to serve where I can be of most use. I have had some doubts whether my health will stand the strain of the travel involved and of the onerous work at Washington. However, if the Government is willing to take the risk, I am.

If I may say so I do not agree that the idea of my being Minister to China and Acting Minister to the U.S.A. is a feasible proposition from the diplomatic point of view. It would be regarded as undignified both to Australia and the countries concerned and would be embarrassing for me, giving the idea that we have not the men to fill these posts. The matter could be managed as described hereunder and I am willing to take the position on these terms.

(1) Agreements should be obtained for my appointment as Australian Minister to the U.S.A. and my appointment to Chungking be terminated.

(2) It is understood between the Government and myself that I shall stay at Washington at least six months and if you then wish me to move to Chungking or some other suitable post to complete the term of my original appointment [2] I am prepared to do so and the agreement for that could then be obtained.

(3) It could be announced that I hope to resume my post at Chungking at a later date.

(4) In view of the heavy work involved at Washington I should like to take Mr. Waller [3] who has had long experience of work with myself.

The Chinese are sensitive and to prevent their feeling any grievance I suggest that Mr. Officer should be given the status of Minister at Chungking and, to the same end, I feel strongly that the extraterritoriality treaty should be settled before I go. In view of the great length of the negotiations, any further delay will cause ill feeling and I should be authorised to present to them a draft which the Government will accept. I am not prepared to present them with a tentative draft.

If the terms I have suggested are not suitable I am content to go back to Chungking. The question of staff for that post must be settled immediately whether I go or not.


1 This offer appears to have been conveyed verbally.

2 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. V, Document 33.

3 Acting Second Secretary, Political, International and Information Section, External Affairs Dept.