79 Dixon to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 180 CANBERRA, 14 March 1944, 17.53 a.m.


Your 323. [1] I saw Adolf Berle this afternoon and made representations to him in accordance with the terms of your telegram. In answer he first said that as to the leakage it was a matter which had been noticed with concern by the State Department. It was bad enough that leakages occurred but that they should also be incorrect made it still more difficult. Then he said that he excepted to the word 'exclude'. The word 'exclude' was due to a misapprehension. He said that there never was any intention of 'excluding' Australia.

Next he expressed surprise that there should be any objection to the U.S. opening discussions with Canada having regard to the fact that geographically Canada adjoined the U.S. and economically had so many ties with her, as a result of which factors, there were special reasons for the two countries exchanging views in relation to such a matter as civil aviation. In addition to that, Canada lay athwart a natural air route from the U.S. to the U.K. and Europe.

I pointed out to him that the proposal had been for a conference not with Canada alone but with the U.K. and the U.S.S.R. Berle said that it was necessary to begin somewhere with preparatory discussions in contemplation of bringing in other countries when the ground had been sufficiently prepared. It was true that the U.S. had the advantage of knowing the policy of Australia and New Zealand as embodied in the Canberra Declaration [2], but they had not ascertained the views of other countries. It was however never intended to exclude other countries from discussions whether preparatory or final, but as he had said before, a beginning must be made and it was impracticable to

begin by inviting a large number of countries. if the number of countries with whom discussion were opened was enlarged it would be necessary to invite various South American countries as well.

The U.S. had taken no exception to the holding of an Empire Conference on the subject in London because it recognised that it was a conference of a particular group united in a particular way.

The economic and geographical considerations to which he had referred brought Canada into a special position in relation to the U.S. and it must be recognised that there might be other groupings. It was not the desire of the U.S. Government to give any cause for irritation and he hoped that I would do my best to explain the object of the suggested discussion in such a way as to allay any such feeling in Canberra.

1 Document 70.

2 Document 26.

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