Your telegram 30th March, No. 80, German Settlement, was communicated to the United Kingdom delegation at Moscow by Australian Charge d'Affaires and the following reply is sent after full consultation with Mr. Bevin.
2. Your telegram appears to us to suggest that some misunderstanding exists both as to the position of the United Kingdom Government and as to the course of recent discussions at Moscow and the part taken therein by the Foreign Secretary. Full information has been given to Australian Government and to their representatives in London as well as to their representative in Moscow since the conference opened.
3. We have stood and stand for fullest participation by the Dominions and other active Allied belligerents consistent with special responsibilities of the Four Powers in preparation of the Peace Settlement. This point has been continuously urged by the Foreign Secretary during current discussion at Moscow, for example statement by Mr. Bevin at C.F.M. meeting of 26th March, that he could not accept position whereby states like the Dominions who had declared war of their own accord in 1939 and had participated actively in all theatres of war should be placed in an inferior position. If these states were good enough to fight with us they were good enough to sit with us now (see my telegram D. 12 Para 9).
4. We have endeavoured to provide that not only should there be a Peace Conference to which these countries should be invited but that they should participate in preparation of settlement both before and after the conference by following means:
(a) Hearing by deputies before the present meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers.
(b) Further hearings by deputies or hearings by Council of Foreign Ministers in presence of representatives of other Allied States, these having the right to comment.
(c) Information and Consultation Conference.
(d) Representation, if they desire, on four permanent working committees.
(e) Consultation by any of these methods after Peace Conference when final text is being drawn up.
5. There is no foundation for the suggestion that the proposals put forward by the United Kingdom delegation are less favourable to the Dominions than the latest United States proposals. The United Kingdom proposals maintain the distinction, at all stages of the preparation of the Peace Treaty, between the active and non-active belligerents.
We have always understood that Australian Government attach importance to preserving this distinction. Moreover Australian Government and other Dominion Governments have consistently represented that the most effective means of associating the active belligerents with the preparation of the draft treaty is through the permanent committees. In this respect the United Kingdom proposals come nearer than any other to satisfying Dominion requirements. The proposals made by United Kingdom delegation in Moscow provided that any of the 18 Allied states may be represented on any of the four permanent committees at their own request. The United States proposal that 'a convenient number' of representatives of Allied states should be included in the permanent committees was part of our original London proposal but we dropped it in Moscow as it would leave the selection of Allied representatives in the hands of the Council of Foreign Ministers, and would therefore, we thought, be less favourable to the Dominions than the wider proposal we put forward. The French and Soviet proposals do not provide for such representation at all.
6. So much for the general position. On the specific points made in your telegram we have the following comments.
7. As regards question of members of Council of Foreign Ministers acting together, it seems to us that statement in your para. 2 confuses (1) Mutual support between the four powers for their agreements of substance as at Paris, which is inevitable, with (2) Proposal that in Information and Consultation Conference representatives of the four powers will act in concert. Our position is that on any proposal on which agreement has been reached between members of C.F.M. no member of C.F.M. should at stage of discussion in Information and Consultation Conference oppose such a proposal. This however would be entirely without prejudice to the right of the members to reconsider their position later in the light of discussions in the conference and views expressed by representatives of other Allied countries. It does not interfere with Australia putting forward amendments or suggestions and some may be adopted by common consent as indeed they were after Paris Conference.
8. As regards reference in your para.3 to Paris Conference there must be misunderstanding as to what was said at meeting with Dominion representatives at Moscow referred to in your telegram.
It is precisely because defects of a procedure which resulted in protracted Paris Conference are fully realised that procedure is now being devised by which proposals by participating states will be considered during formative stage of settlement. It has been repeatedly emphasised at Moscow that Information and Consultation Conference would provide forum for full and free expression of Allied views.
9. As regards your reference to United States Secretary of State in para. 4 of your telegram, it is clear that one of the results of United States proposals would be to lessen distinction between active and non-active belligerents, all of whom would participate on an equal footing in the Information and Consultation Conference and the Peace Conference. Mr. Bevin has expressed hope to Dominion representatives that, if Treaty had been prepared in consultation with the Allies on lines which we have advocated necessity for voting at Peace Conference would be obviated, since it would be substantially an agreed document and functions of conference would to that extent be formal.
10. As regards reference in para.6 of your telegram to position of four powers, Potsdam agreement states that Council of Foreign Ministers will be utilised for preparation of German Peace Settlement. We have, however, gone further than Potsdam agreement and have even succeeded in persuading Soviet Government to go further and to agree that Council of Foreign Ministers will consult Allied states to an extent much beyond that stated in Potsdam Agreement.
11. We hope that this telegram will make it clear that there has been a complete misunderstanding as to our attitude in this matter.