193 Australian Government to Fraser

Cablegram 278 CANBERRA, 24 December 1947, 5 p.m.

IMMEDIATE TOP SECRET

Defence requirements for India and Pakistan.

Reference C.R.O. telegram D.838 of 22nd October. [1] We are contemplating replying to C.R.O. in the following sense:

'Draft brief for service members of United Kingdom delegation generally satisfactory from Australian Defence aspect, but it is noted that there are certain subjects in the draft headings for proposed agreements (paragraph 5 (c) and (d)) which refer directly or indirectly to possible commitments by other Commonwealth countries. It might have been appropriate for the agreements to have been negotiated on a Commonwealth basis and to have been of a comprehensive nature. It, therefore, regards the proposed agreements as purely bilateral, and as not incurring any commitment on behalf of Australia.

It is noted that the delegation are to be provided, for their own information, with a statement showing the principles of which consultation on defence matters between the United Kingdom and other Dominions is based. In this connection invitations to participate on a reciprocal basis in the arrangements for consultation and co-operation in defence matters proposed in the Australian Government's memorandum of 23rd May, 1947, on co- operation in British Commonwealth Defence, were conveyed in May last to the then Government of India and subsequently were brought to the notice of the present Governments of India and of Pakistan.

Replies have not yet been received.

Should it be necessary questions as between Australia and the Dominions of India and Pakistan can be the subject of separate negotiations at a later date of which, of course, the United Kingdom Government will be kept informed.' 2. Should be glad of your comments on above. Will hold reply until answer to this telegram is received. [2]

1 It noted that negotiations towards defence agreements could not begin while the situation on the sub-continent remained disturbed.

In the meantime a preliminary draft brief for the UK service delegation would be made available to other Commonwealth governments for comment.

2 Fraser replied, on 31 December, that he had no comments or objections to the proposed reply.

[AA : A5954/1, 1908/7]