120 Cablegram From Watt to Spender

Cablegram, Canberra, 25 October 1951

1350. PRIORITY SECRET

Part II 5. I discussed your telegram 1846[1] with Minister before he left Sydney en route to Paris[2] and suggested to him that any question of extension of three-power security arrangement to include Indonesia or any other Asian countries raised complex and delicate problems. For instance, it would immediately raise question whether certain mainland areas such as Malaya were to be included. United Kingdom might well press for such inclusion if arrangements were extended to Indonesia. Again, would the United States modify its view that it could not guarantee mainland areas? Moreover, even informal discussion of extension of arrangements to include Indonesia could raise difficulties with the Dutch - particularly if any question of future of Dutch New Guinea became associated with the subject of security arrangements. As Australia has consistently done its utmost to stiffen Dutch attitude towards retention of sovereignty in Dutch New Guinea, Dutch might suspect any show of Australian interest in Indonesian security arrangements, particularly if they were not aware of nature of such discussions. Result could be that Dutch might weaken in their resolution to hold Dutch New Guinea.

6. Minister agreed regarding delicacy of subject but commented upon fact that his visit to South-East Asia had made clear importance of certain mainland areas such as Indo-China and Burma to retention of Malaya. He felt it could be argued that there was urgent need for support in relation to such areas. We discussed possibility that American attitude towards guaranteeing mainland might change and that conceivable change in present British Government might bring about stronger British interest in conclusion of a Pacific Pact.

7. Present arrangement with Minister is that we will for the time being say nothing whatever to Indonesians or Dutch on the subject. Minister is likely, however, to discuss discreetly with Malcolm MacDonald[3] question of possible Indonesian interest in security arrangements in order to sound out British reactions.

8. Glad to receive information regarding any further developments at your end. We will advise any developments here or during Minister's visit abroad.

1 Document 118.

2 On 21 October Casey left by air on his way to Paris to lead the Australian delegation to the Sixth Session of the UN General Assembly.

3 Malcolm MacDonald, Commissioner-General for the United Kingdom in South-East Asia.

[NAA : A1838, 532/11, v]