176 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 67 CANBERRA, 6 May 1943

SECRET

Your 86. [1]

We are now considering proposal of United Kingdom in light of your advices but are still somewhat uneasy on two points.

2. Firstly, having regard to leakage of information relating to Clearing Union [2] we feel there is danger of similar leakage of proposed talks and because of highly controversial nature of commercial policy any leakage would cause serious embarrassment here.

3. In circumstances, we would normally prefer, for reasons you will appreciate, that talks should be postponed until a more suitable opportunity arises. If, however, the United Kingdom Government is determined to initiate talks with United States at early date and other Dominions agree to join in preliminary talks our present inclination is that we should also participate provided, of course, they are on non-Governmental plane and there is no Government commitment.

4. Secondly, we are very disturbed that proposed date, viz. 3rd week in May, conflicts with date of Food Conference in United States of America. It is quite impossible in the time available for us to send a representative from Australia. Dr. Coombs now in Washington is most suitable representative who could reach London in time, but it would be impossible to take him away from Food Conference without considerable embarrassment. We have carefully noted your advices that United Kingdom Government desire third week in May to be adhered to if possible. We note that Canada is accepting for that date and we await your advice re other Dominions and India. Our present inclinations are that in any case we would prefer talks to be postponed until after Food Conference.

This would have three advantages from our point of view:-

(a) We could send Dr. Coombs without embarrassment to our representation at Food Conference.

(b) Postponement would obviate any misunderstanding with United States of America which might result if at this late hour we withdrew our accredited representative from the Food Conference.

(c) Dr. Evatt would be available in London for reference.

5. The whole matter is still under consideration and the final decision will be made after further consultation with Dr. Evatt.

In circumstances, we have not yet sent reply to British Government but are sending you this communication so as to keep you in touch with our tentative views. You might advise United Kingdom Government that we will send considered reply at weekend.

1 Document 171.

2 See Document 104, note 14.

[AA:A989, 43/735/57/1]