277 Noel-Baker to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram D103, LONDON, 23 February 1948, 6.35 p.m.

SECRET

Your telegram 17th February 38.

GERMANY We are glad that Australian Government agree with our proceeding with tripartite conversations. We shall keep you informed of their progress and if Australian Government desire to offer any comment on the information which we send we shall appreciate it if it can reach us as early as possible. The conversations are likely to last a fort night from 23rd February.

2. We are also glad that you share our desire to recognise special interests of Benelux countries in Western Germany. Our ideas as to how this might be done are contained in a separate telegram.

3. As will have been seen from a further separate telegram the United States Government have made a point of stressing to us that these conversations at Ambassadorial level constitute an informal and preliminary exchange of views. It is envisaged that such conclusions as emerge will be subject to approval by the three Governments, and we shall of course inform you of them. In any case conclusions on such items as C, D and G[1] will only relate to the attitude which the three Governments should adopt. Final decisions on G will of course form part of the eventual peace settlement. On item F (evolution of Western Germany) some decisions of an administrative kind are urgently needed without delay but in saying this we do not wish to be regarded as having given up hope of an eventual peace settlement for the whole of Germany in which active belligerents, including Soviet Union, would participate. Our idea is that any provisional and temporary arrangements that are made for the Western zones should be capable of being fitted into a wider settlement as soon as this is attainable. On this point we believe from preliminary discussions with the United States Delegation that they and we are at one. We do not therefore think that these tripartite discussions should in any way prejudice position of Australia in relation to German settlement.

[1] Agenda item (c) read 'Role of German economy in European economy and control of the Ruhr'; item (d) 'Security against Germany'; and item (g) 'Provisional territorial arrangements'.

[AA : A1838, 29/2/3/7, II]