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132 Evatt to Curtin (in London)

Cablegram 82 [1] CANBERRA, 5 May 1944


For Curtin from Evatt.

Reference telegram 63A [2] from Bruce on Future of French Colonial Empire. I would make the following provisional comments- (1) The general approach seems sound. Our policy favours restoration of France and French Empire. In that respect we differ from Smuts and the United States. The pledges in relation to France are contained in documentation which I gave you. [3] They are very comprehensive, and in some respects very specific.

(2) It is not altogether satisfactory to tackle the Post-war settlement, country by country, e.g. Italy first, France second and so forth. At the same time my view accords in many respects with the document as summarised.

(3) Australia's primary interest will be in the Pacific. As to this, the Australia - New Zealand Agreement [4] is an excellent general guide. For instance, no separate commitment whatever should be made to the United States in relation to Indo-China. The specific problem should be embraced in one general settlement.

Australia's interests would be to extend the United States control in the Pacific so long as it is North of the Equator, but that means that giving up of territorial aims by the United States South of the Equator, which is an integral portion of any new arrangement covering such places as Indo-China or Japanese mandated territories. This is the inner significance of the Australia - New Zealand Agreement, the soundness of which is becoming more apparent every day.

(4) With regard to the New Hebrides, I entirely favour the extension of Australian sovereignty. The matter cannot be determined now, however, but I believe Australia should at least take over the British share of the existing Condominium.

(5) As to Indo-China, it would be a mistake to blame France exclusively for Japanese advance into Indo-China. Indo-China went because of the fall of France, the responsibility for which rests upon many shoulders and more than one country. The contrast between Indo-China and New Caledonia is striking. In the latter case De Gaulle's [5] supporters saved the situation. In the former case Vichy let us down. The case of Thailand is in many respects worse than that of Indo-China. In my view there is a stronger case for Allied supervision in Thailand than in Indo-China. It will probably be found in the end that the status quo ante in Indo- China will be the safest Post-war policy. One has to remember the bitter hostility of some American interests especially the State Department, to De Gaulle. This hostility tends to cloud a fair judgment.

(6) It seems to me increasingly necessary that there should be subsequent discussions on these great international questions after full consideration of the issues in question.

1 Sent through the External Affairs Officer in London.

2 Dispatched 2 May. On file AA:A989, 44/735/515.

3 See External Affairs Dept briefing paper 'Future of France'. On file AA:A5954, box 647.

4 Document 26.

5 President of the French Committee of National Liberation.

[AA:A989, 43/735/302]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History