262 Deschamps to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 67 MOSCOW, 22 March 1947, 7.45 p.m.


Together with Wilgress and Boswell [1] I have had a meeting with Bevin, at which Strang was present. After giving us a brief survey of developments in the Council Bevin asked for our views on procedure.

2.Wilgress concentrated on the question of membership of the drafting committees. Canada insisted on full and effective participation in the drafting of the treaty as minimum consonant with the magnitude of her war effort and her dignity as a nation.

Murphy's proposal for 'a convenient number' of representatives of the eighteen allied states represented the minimum acceptable to his government. Bevin assured him that the United Kingdom would not compromise on this point and would give utmost support to Dominion participation. (Wilgress had already received an assurance from Murphy that the United States would not retreat from its present position.) To me it now seems that the American charter (and Canadian minimum requirement) with all its dangers and defects provides for maximum amount of allied participation in the drafting of the Treaty likely to be attained in Moscow.

3. I then stated the Australian position and emphasized strongly our fundamental objection to the principle of concerted action by the four powers. Bevin replied that although he knew that the Australian and other Governments were opposed to it he did not himself object to the Paris procedure. He compared the Council of Foreign Ministers to a party caucus and said that he would not think of going back in Parliament on a policy agreed in caucus. I commented that it was our understanding that late consultation with allied powers through the Information and Consultation body was to take place before agreed policies had been reached and that therein lay its sole value. Strang intervened at this point to claim that provision for concerted action would not limit freedom of discussion in Information and Consultation Committee and emphasized that it was not a voting body but essentially a clearing house for ideas.

4. The meeting cannot be regarded as a very satisfactory one, as it reveals a 'great power' attitude on the part of the Foreign Secretary. We should guard particularly against any attempt to extend the principle to the drafting committees or the Peace Conference itself.

5. The Chinese Ambassador has conveyed to me his appreciation of the stand taken by Australia in connection with the suggested discussion in Moscow of Chinese affairs. [2]

1 C.W. Boswell, NZ Minister to the USSR.

2 Australia had strongly opposed Molotov's suggestion that the conference discuss the position in China.

[AA: A1068, E47/15/5/1/10]