120 Legation in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 255 WASHINGTON, 7 March 1946, 7.41 p.m.


Our 236. [1]

The New Zealand Legation have now let us have a note of discussion between Fraser, McIntosh and Berendsen and State Department Officials on Pacific Bases.

The Americans are seeking the right to operate jointly with New Zealand, Bases in Western Samoa (confined for the present to Upolu Island) with the United States having the right in an emergency to assume sole operational control of the strategic area involved.

The Civil administration would remain in New Zealand hands. The State Department want to incorporate this arrangement in a bilateral agreement with New Zealand to be concluded in advance of New Zealand's submission of a Trusteeship agreement for approval by the United Nations organisation. They would like to limit 'States directly concerned' as regards Western Samoa, to themselves and New Zealand but have expressed agreement to the use by United Kingdom and Australia of proposed joint base facilities, and would be prepared to include Australia and, perhaps the United Kingdom as the 'States directly concerned' but not France. They have put forward for consideration a draft agreement (which they explain should not be taken as representing the views of the United States Government) and have suggested certain clauses for insertion in any Trusteeship agreement on Western Samoa between New Zealand and the Trusteeship Council. They insist that the authority of the Trusteeship Council in respect of non-military matters in Western Samoa would not be infringed by their proposed Bilateral agreement, which they hope will serve. as a model for subsequent agreement with Australia on Manus.

New Zealand promised full consideration and made it plain that they would have to discuss the suggested arrangement fully with the Australian and United Kingdom [Governments], both of which they insisted were States directly concerned. They also doubted whether France could be excluded from consultation since New Zealand would probably be asking for certain rights in New Caledonia and France might therefore ask for reciprocal rights in territories in which New Zealand and United States are interested.

New Zealand also questioned the proposal that United States New Zealand agreement be concluded before the Trusteeship agreement pointing out that the prominent part which New Zealand has taken in all Trusteeship discussions imposes a certain moral obligation not to support any action which might derogate from the prestige of the Trusteeship Council. They expressed the view that the military objectives desired by the Americans could be obtained under the ordinary Trusteeship terms of the charter without any special action to designate in such a small mandate a strategic area subject to the Security Council. They expressed preference for wider British Commonwealth United States talks on Pacific defence problems, and advocated a conference in Canberra. The Americans promised to consider this but their main concern is apparently to conclude Bilateral agreements with individual Governments.

The New Zealanders questioned several clauses in the suggested draft agreement notably the provision giving the United States right to assume sole operational control of military installations and facilities if conditions made such course necessary 'in its judgment', and further provision for 'such control to continue for such time as the United States considers necessary'.

In the course of the discussions Americans brought up United States claims (at present held in the background) to sovereignty over certain British Pacific Islands including part of New Zealand Territory. These claims appear to lack substance but Americans are unwilling to drop them though it was hinted that they might be prepared to do so if satisfactory agreement could be reached on the security side.

United Kingdom representatives here have not yet had any detailed discussions with the Americans on Pacific bases. We are informed that they have had instructions to begin discussions, but to confine them so far as possible to the military side, and that arrangements have now been made for Field Marshal Wilson to handle the matter.

You will presumably be receiving from Wellington a full account of the New Zealand Discussions. Meanwhile please let us know if you would like us to telegraph text of suggested draft agreement and suggested clauses for insertion in Trusteeship agreement.

1 Dispatched 2 March, it conveyed the N.Z. Legation's promise to provide a full account of Fraser's talks with the State Department.

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