67 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram D348 LONDON, 7 March 1944, 10 p.m.

IMPORTANT MOST SECRET

My telegram 18th February D No. 245, civil aviation. [1] His Majesty's United Kingdom Ambassador at Washington has been informed by Mr. Berle that if Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were invited it would be impossible for the United States Government not to ask Brazil and probably Mexico also. He outlined the following proposals as an attempt to meet our wishes. Instead of a joint discussion between countries concerned, conversations between U.S. Government and representatives of U.K. and the Canadian Governments should take place in Washington as bi-lateral conversations between representatives of the U.S. Government on one hand and of other two Governments separately on the other.

These would take place as far as possible simultaneously.

U.S. Government would ask Soviet and Chinese Governments whether they would engage in similar bilateral conversations with U.S.

Government in Washington at about the same time. U.S. Government would extend similar invitations to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to Brazil and probably to Mexico and it would probably be necessary to do same with Netherlands and French National Committee (if a suitable formula could be found for inviting the last named). Talks with Governments other than U.K., Canada, Russia and China would as far as physically possible be simultaneous. The U.S. Government would keep each Government informed of talks with the others.

The announced purpose of these bi-lateral exchanges of views would be to pave the way for holding of a United Nations Civil Aviation Conference at earliest possible moment at which it appeared that there existed a sufficiently broad area of common understanding among a sizeable nucleus of countries.

Mr. Berle said that the talks could begin about third week in March and United Nations Conference before end of summer.

2. Mr. Berle emphasised that while this latest suggestion had obvious disadvantages it was put forward in an attempt to meet the wishes pressed by the U.K. Ambassador. The U.S. Government hoped that they would at least be able to work out a basis for future air relations with countries of British Commonwealth which could be put into force even if contrary to their wish and expectation, delay or difficulties should arise in conclusion of a general United Nations agreement.

3. U.S. Government assumed that neutral Governments would be excluded.

4. We have instructed Lord Halifax to reply that proposal of bilateral talks as described in paragraph 1 is unacceptable to us but that we should have no objection to the alternative which seems to be in Mr. Berle's mind namely, preliminary and exploratory multilateral talks between U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands, French Committee, Brazil, Mexico, Soviet Union and China. India should also be represented and we think that Belgium should probably be added. The reply goes on to say that we should be very glad to meet the U.S. Government to this extent on the understanding that nature of conversations as originally conceived has not been changed and subject to question of venue.

5. Idea has always been to arrange exploratory exchange of views with U.S. as preliminary to a full United Nations conference. We can understand that it might be difficult for United States to join in talks with all five British Commonwealth Governments without bringing in other countries mentioned by Mr. Berle.

Solution therefore seems to be that we should have exploratory talks as originally conceived but on a wider basis and that these talks should be regarded as being preliminary to a full United Nations conference, to be held at some future date.

6. As to venue Lord Halifax has been advised that we think it would be inadvisable to discuss such a politically contentious matter in North America during presidential election year. We should prefer talks in London but can understand that this would be unacceptable to United States. He is accordingly to propose to U.S. Government that talks should take place in North Africa or Morocco.

1 Document 52.

[AA:A989, 44/735/832/8]