313 Beasley to Evatt

Cablegram 183 LONDON, 21 May 1947, 6.15 p.m.


1. At the Commonwealth meeting this morning Addison circulated copy of article from the Washington Post of 13th May, a summary of which is contained in my immediately following telegram. This article, which is believed to reflect the views of the State Department suggests that composition and voting procedure of the Far Eastern Commission are likely to be adopted in setting up a conference for preliminary discussions of Japanese Peace Settlement. The article was interpreted by the United Kingdom and Canadian representatives as meaning that members of Far Eastern Commission would be used as a nuclear body for conference.

2. Neither Addison nor McNeil favour this idea, as they do not regard the status of the Commission as being sufficiently high for such a role and it is thought there might be difficulties over the question of whether F.E.C.'s terms of reference were being exceeded.

3. The Foreign Office and Dominion Office are concerned least the State Department should make some pronouncement shortly giving their views on the settlement. They consider it urgent therefore, in order to forestall any such statement that the United Kingdom Government be informed of British Commonwealth views.

4. The United Kingdom authorities have in mind informing the United States that any consideration of the Peace Settlement being made by the CFM [1] as at present constituted, or even with the addition of one or two major participants in the war against Japan, should be avoided. They are also considering suggesting that all countries represented on the F.E.C. with the probable addition subsequently of South Africa, be invited to attend a preliminary conference to determine the procedure for the settlement. Addison said he would like an early expression of the views of the Dominion Governments on this suggestion before any approach to the United States is made.

5. When I enquired about the British Commonwealth meeting which it had been agreed should precede any general conference, Addison said it appeared physically impossible for Ministers to meet in the near future, either in Canberra or in London, and although consideration had been given to the possibility of an early meeting of officials in Canberra, this alternative seemed unsatisfactory because only Ministers could make the broad decisions which ought to be made at such a meeting. McNeil felt it might be necessary to abandon the idea of a Commonwealth meeting.

Robertson seemed ready to acquiesce and Heaton Nicholls [2] stated no South African Minister could go to Australia.

At my suggestion, however, it was agreed that Inverchapel should request the United States authorities not to make any announcement for the time being and Addison and McNeil are now giving full and sympathetic consideration to the possibility of their attending meeting in Canberra commencing last week in August. Jordan [3] supported proposal for meeting in Canberra and eventually Heaton Nicholls conceded there was much to be gained from such a meeting and he would try and persuade Smuts to attend en route to September meeting of UNO Assembly. Robertson said he would urge Canadian Government to agree to a Canberra meeting.

6. When Heaton Nicholls enquired whether India would be invited to Commonwealth meeting, Addison said that developments had taken a more favourable turn recently and he thought the United Kingdom Government would probably want to include India in the talks.

7. I should be glad of your early views on United Kingdom proposal that countries who are members of F.E.C. be invited to General Preliminary Conference.

1 Council of Foreign Ministers.

2 George Heaton Nicholls, High Commissioner for South Africa.

3 W.J. Jordan, High Commissioner for New Zealand.

[AA : A1068, P47/10/61, ii]