85 Addison to Beasley

Letter LONDON, 14 February 1946

I at once discussed with Mr. Bevin your letter of the 11th February [1] in connection with the American approach for the continued use of certain bases established on British territory in the Pacific.

I need not perhaps elaborate what was said at the meeting with yourself and other Dominion representatives on February 8th with regard to our own views as to how this matter had best be handled.

[2] We quite understand the Australian Government's feeling that at a later stage wider defence talks in Australia would become important and probably necessary. What we are anxious to do at the moment, however, is to avoid, if possible, having to make arrangements about these specific United States bases in British territory in the Pacific, which would involve, before the Security Council has completed its arrangements, formal agreements which ought properly to be agreed with the Security Council. We have certain specific United States requests to deal with which could not be left over too long; and the purpose of the suggested talks in Washington, as we see it, would be to persuade the Americans away from the idea of keeping these bases as military bases in the strict sense and converting them into civil aviation stations.

Failing this, we should wish to persuade the Americans to be content for the present with assurances that we are not going to run them out. In these circumstances, the Washington talks would necessarily be purely preliminary and exploratory as well as noncommittal, and they would not, in our view, prejudice the prospect of any wider scheme of Pacific security which might be agreed on later as a result of talks in Australia or anywhere else.

In these circumstances, we feel that our only course is that we should proceed with our proposed talks at Washington as previously arranged, leaving open the question of wider discussions at Canberra later, if the United States can be induced to agree to this, and we are making arrangements accordingly.

I gather from a short exchange of views which I had with Mr.

Fraser that he would himself share these views, and I should hope that he also would agree to participate in the Washington talks on this basis. [3]

We should certainly very much hope that, in any such talks in Washington, the Australian Government will feel able to be represented.

I am sending a copy of your letter and this reply to Mr. Fraser.

ADDISON

1 Document 83.

2 See Document 81.

3 In an unnumbered cablegram of 10 February to Evatt, Fraser had reported having expressed the view that, while a conference in Canberra was desirable, there was point in having preliminary and exploratory talks in Washington.

[AA:A3317, 179/46]