323 Garnett to Burton

Letter, CANBERRA, 3 May 1948


I enclose a note of the verbal communication which the High Commissioner made to the Prime Minister and Dr. Evatt last week.

Enclosure The High Commissioner spoke to the Prime Minister and Dr. Evatt on 28th April on the following lines:-

(1) United Kingdom representatives at Washington did their best to discover what the United States Administration has in mind to suggest as regards the part which the United States should play in any future security system or systems. It is evident from their enquiries that the Administration is still in doubt as to how to proceed, and for this reason have postponed convening the quadripartite conversations which Mr. Marshall stated at the end of March they could undertake 'very shortly'.

(2) The indications are however that the United States Administration are thinking very seriously of proposing that the parties to the Five-Power Treaty, Canada, and the democratic countries of Western Europe, notably Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Eire, and Portugal should, provided that preliminary secret enquiries suggest that they will accept, be invited to some conference in Washington with a view to elaborating a treaty for the defence of the 'North Atlantic area' based essentially on Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and embodying some of the features of the Rio Treaty.

(3) Though in the event it may still prove that far-reaching proposals of this sort may not be possible in an election year in the United States the United States Administration contemplate in any case some further declaration by the President extending United States support to the countries named in event of their being victims of an 'armed attack'. It is thought that some such declaration would be necessary to hold the situation until a treaty for the defence of the North Atlantic area could be negotiated and could be ratified by the United States Senate.

(4) There is also some support for a further proposal for a United Kingdom - United States declaration as regards aid to Greece, Turkey, and Iran in event of their being victims of an 'armed attack' and until such time as a regional defence system for the Middle East can be agreed upon.

(5) It has emerged that the United States Administration also contemplate the eventual elaboration of suitable regional systems of defence in East Asia and South East Asia, but they urge that, the immediate danger being in Europe and the Middle East, first things should come first. In principle, however, they are strongly of opinion that the whole world should in the long run be covered by a series of regional systems, with the exception no doubt of the Soviet Union and her satellites if the Soviet Government should continue in its present attitude of complete non-co-operation with Western Democracies.

(6) The High Commissioner emphasized that the above was for the personal information only of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs and that secrecy was vital since it might well wreck all hopes of any forward move on the part of the United States Government if any word got out as to their intentions during the period when they are still making up their minds. Any comments on the above general scheme, supposing that in the event it should prove to be the declared policy of United States Administration, would be welcomed.

[AA : A1838, TS78/7]