Cablegram 887 WASHINGTON, 1 July 1946, 1.38 a.m.
Your telegram A71. 
1. Thank you for your telegram A71 on Pacific Bases.
2. I have at Byrnes' suggestion discussed bases problem with
(Acting Secretary of State) and other officials of the State
Department and with high United States Service officials including
Admiral Nimitz, United States Navy Chief.
3. As was pointed out to us at London Conference the United States
Government is very disinclined to consider at present the
assumption of specific Defence obligations covering the South-West
4. My strong impression is that the United States desire the use
of facilities at Manus although it is intended that Guam will
become their main Western Pacific Naval Base.
5. The essential feature of our approach to the problem has been
to associate the use of Manus with other bases and territories in
the South West Pacific Region and to see that if United States
gets the use of facilities they will be required in return to give
us definite and tangible benefits of a Defence character.
6. Therefore when it was again emphasised by their officials that
to get the United States to enter into specific Defence
obligations would be practically impossible from a political point
of view, I suggested by way of possible alternative, for informal
consideration only, a plan which would provide for the use by
Australia of United States base facilities (the bases to be
specified) as well as the use by the United States of base
facilities (the bases to be specified and to include Manus).
7. Under this proposal if for instance we were at liberty to use
United States facilities in Guam that would, from our point of
view, at least compensate for their use of facilities at Manus,
particularly as they created the facilities at Manus. The
particular facilities and bases would have to be selected after
conversations between Service Authorities. Further they would have
no administrative or other control over Manus.
8. From Australia's point of view such an alternative plan would
be based on Reciprocity and could properly be regarded as a
practical regional arrangement as paragraph 2 of your telegram
indicates. It could also lead to assumption of definite
obligations at a later period. In some respects the arrangement
would be more satisfactory than a mere undertaking to co-operate
in resisting aggression in the South West Pacific area. The latter
undertaking is implied in the United Nations Charter whereas the
alternative plan is a visible manifestation of long-term Defence
association for mutual benefit without any suggestion whatever of
interference with Australian sovereignty.
9. Admiral Nimitz seemed receptive to, and even attracted by, this
alternative approach. He emphasised the need for care and patience
in working out any plan as it would not be wise politically to
place too great an emphasis on future United States Defence
obligations, particularly in the early stages of the United
Nations Charter. But he was undoubtedly inclined to recommend some
arrangement for the mutual use of prescribed bases and their
facilities as being businesslike and at the same time justifiable
and as implying effective continuation of wartime cooperation
between United States and Australia. He repeatedly said that our
two countries would always work together and that the alternative
plan would, in effect, be notice to any aggressor that we would
10. As you know, Nimitz was the great Naval Leader of the United
States in the Pacific War and I have the greatest admiration for
his achievements which parallel those of MacArthur. He is
extremely friendly to Australia.
11. If such an alternative plan were approved in principle as to
which, of course, Nimitz could give no definite assurance, Nimitz
said that staff conversations could follow as to selection of
12. Of course, as your paragraph 3 implies, the United Kingdom and
New Zealand would have to participate in the plan. Nash has not
yet arrived in Washington but I have kept the United Kingdom
Ambassador  and the New Zealand Minister  informed
13. In reply to your paragraph 5, the door is still quite open. My
strong impression is that Nimitz will do his utmost to recommend
an arrangement for the mutual use of base facilities particularly
if in the initial stages the area covered is not too extensive and
the bases involved are not too numerous.
14. (A) For your personal information the publication in Canberra
and repetition here of the story of a Regional Defence Conference
at Canberra covering all Pacific countries is at present
embarrassing to the United States. It is also embarrassing to
Australia as the United States has to issue some sort of denial as
there is no Conference proposed at present. 
(B) Premature publication of the negotiations would also be
(C) Byrnes' absence in Paris makes difficult any definite
statement by the United States Government.
15. Subject to your endorsement am hopeful, though not
overconfident, of getting some approval in principle to the plan,
leaving it to the Service authorities to proceed with all details
by way of further conversations which necessarily would take a