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48 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 45 [1] LONDON, 12 February 1944, 9.35 p.m.


Canberra telegram No. 22 of 25th January [2] regarding Australia- New Zealand Agreement. [3]

(1) We have now had the opportunity to examine text of published agreement in the light of the fuller explanations contained in your telegram of 25th January. Following are the detailed comments for which you ask.

(2) We have throughout understood that the Canberra meeting was primarily designed to further co-operation between Australia and New Zealand. Full confirmation of this is to be found in paragraphs 1 to 6. We naturally welcome any steps that may lead to a strengthening of the ties between members of British Commonwealth and, we hope, with You, that arrangements now made between Australia and New Zealand will assist to this result.

(3) Your paragraph 2. Armistices etc. We fully recognise the importance for the future to both Australia and New Zealand of European arrangements and welcome the desire of the two Dominions to cooperate in the machinery for the preservation of peace in the post-war world. You will, we are sure, recognise that the representation of individual Governments on the various organisations that are to be set up to devise the future structure of Europe is a matter for the decision of the United Nations as a whole and that account must necessarily be taken of the special interests of foreign countries situated in the area of functional responsibilities and of the paramount necessity of keeping international bodies small if they are to work efficiently. Those questions seem, in any case, appropriate for discussion at the forthcoming meeting of the Dominion Prime Ministers.

(4) As regards Armistice and subsequent arrangements in the Pacific, we have directed our post hostilities planning committee to undertake an investigation of the position. In so doing, they will, as already arranged, keep in touch with the Australian and New Zealand [4] Liaison officers in London. We are glad to note that similar committees are to be set up in Australia and New Zealand and hope that they will keep in touch with our Liaison Staff in the two Dominions.

(5) Your paragraph 3, U.N.R.R.A. We are in full agreement with your wish to have the Far Eastern committee eventually located in Australia. This is, however, clearly a matter in which the United States views will carry great weight and we have no information whether or not they would be likely to agree.

(6) Your paragraph 4. Security and Defence.

(1) Planning of general international organisation.

(2) Proposed regional defence zone in South and South-West Pacific.

We welcome very warmly your offer to share in defence responsibilities in the Pacific. Pending the working out of an international scheme and the allocation of the parts to be played in it by the various nations concerned, we can assure you that so far as His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are concerned, we shall be ready to co-operate in any way in respect of Pacific Islands under our administration in working out plans and giving them practical application. See also our general comments in paragraph 12.

(7) Your paragraph 5. Disposal of Wartime Installations. We are in agreement with the general principle laid down in this paragraph with the proviso that its application in certain individual instances might be affected by the terms of the arrangements made at the time.

(8) Your paragraph 6. Civil Aviation. Your views have been noted.

The next step in this matter is clearly to ascertain United States views and we are telegraphing separately as to this.

(9) Your paragraph 7. Dependencies. (b) Combined Civil Affairs Committee. Please see our telegram of 2nd February Australia No.

35, repeated New Zealand No. 20. [5] Civil affairs in British Solomon Islands Protectorate and Gilbert Islands. The High Commissioner for Western Pacific [6] has made local arrangements with Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, which are working satisfactorily for re-entry of United Kingdom administrative officers with the United States force. We are most grateful for Australian offer of additional personnel and of training facilities and will communicate later with Australia should the Secretary of State for Colonies find it possible to avail himself of it.

(10) Your paragraphs 8 and 9. Enemy territories and changes of sovereignty in South and South-West Pacific. We recognise your interest in these matters and your views have been noted.

(11) Your paragraph 10. South Seas Regional Council. We welcome your support of the principle of regional councils. We shall be glad to exchange views on your proposal, and in view of our interests and responsibilities in Pacific, presume that you will consult us on any further proposals before approaching any other country.

(12) We have read with great interest your proposal for an early conference in Australia between Governments with existing territorial interests in the South-Western Pacific to discuss the problems of security, post-war development and native welfare in that area. You will appreciate that this proposal comes as a new one to us. We had received no private notice from either of the two Governments concerned that any public announcement of the kind was to be made. We have, as yet, no indication of the attitude of the other states concerned to the proposal, whether they would regard it as timely or premature, nor have we, ourselves, completed our studies of the very wide issues involved. In particular, it seems to us that it may well be necessary to have some clear idea of 'the framework of a general system of world security' to which you refer both in the agreement and in your telegram to us, before the nations concerned can proceed to any detailed plans for a regional arrangement which must be constructed to fit into the world system. We feel sure that you will agree that all these considerations are of very real importance. In the circumstances, while preserving an open mind as to your proposal, we feel that it is essential that we should discuss these matters with you before further steps are taken We are glad that the forthcoming meeting of Prime Ministers will provide an opportunity for such discussion.

In the light of our consultations, we can then consider together what the next step should be. in the meantime we feel that it would be premature to take steps to call for a definite date the international conference contemplated in paragraph 34 of the agreement and we hope that you will defer the issue of invitations until after the meeting in London when the position may be clearer.

Generally, we shall be ready to discuss all the above questions at the forthcoming meeting of the five Prime Ministers and are therefore communicating to the Prime Ministers of Canada and South Africa your telegram and this reply.

1 Addressed to the N.Z. Govt as no. 28.

2 Document 32.

3 Document 26.

4 Sir Cecil Day.

5 On file AA: A1608, T41/1/1, i.

6 Sir Philip Mitchell.

[AA:A989, 44/735/168/14]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History