320 External Affairs Office, London, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 577 (extract), LONDON, 17 February 1948, 7.20 p.m.

SECRET

Western Union your telegram 519.[1]

Conversations have been proceeding on political aspects of Western Union and I understand that a personal and secret telegram has gone to Prime Minister.

2. It is claimed that United Kingdom's emphasis has been not so much on uniting countries of Western Europe against Soviet Union as promoting a stable group of neighbours in Western Europe whose existence would facilitate the establishment of orderly relations with Soviet Government and Eastern Europe. This recalls United Kingdom's earlier discouragement of possibility of French agreements with Poland and Czechoslovakia providing against aggression by 'Germany or any power associated with Germany'. It is most unlikely that they could be concluded now even if they were possible then. No decision has been made on actual form of Western agreements but it is now thought that Benelux countries may insist on two agreements, one each by France and united Kingdom with those three Governments. Earlier it had been thought that Britain and France might have three separate agreements with each of Benelux countries. It is felt here that Belgium and Holland prefer United Kingdom to French leadership in the group.

3. Need is stressed here for making co-operation between Western Powers cover much wider ranges than mere political security and economic questions. It is said that Foreign Secretaries attitude could be described as amounting almost to a derogation of sovereignty in view of extent to which it would involve each country taking account of interests of others in determining what are in a narrow sense questions of domestic policy.

[1] Dispatched 12 February, it sought information about developments in UK views on Western Union, particularly about any concrete proposals.

[AA : A1838, 81/2/1]