314 Cranborne to Curtin

Cablegram 316 LONDON, 26 October 1943, 9.15 p.m.


The Prime Minister has shown me your JOHCU 73 [1] and has asked me to explain in greater detail the position as we see it regarding the proposed meeting of Prime Ministers.

While we fully understand the strong local reasons which you give for your continued presence in Australia for the next few months, I feel bound to press you further to reconsider your decision. In the interests of Imperial co-operation we attach very great urgency and importance to an early meeting of Prime Ministers.

In our judgment, early decisions seem inevitable regarding future arrangements for Europe and the world generally. The sooner we are able to make firm agreements with the United States and Russia for future cooperation on these matters the better will be the prospect for the future of the world. But these problems raise matters of the first importance to the future of each member of the British Commonwealth and of the British Commonwealth as a whole. Although much can, no doubt, be done by telegraphic exchanges of views it seems vital that there should if possible be personal consultation between the Prime Ministers of the Empire before final decisions are taken. You yourself have urged the necessity for better machinery for consultation within the British Commonwealth. This is a crucial time for such consultation.

It is in view of the urgency and importance of the matters arising that I would ask you very earnestly to consider whether it would not be possible for you to come here in December for a meeting. I fear that a meeting next April would not have the same value. For one thing it is likely to be too late in view of the probable pressure of events. Decisions as to international and post war settlements which may be of the greatest importance to Australia may well have been reached before then and we feel that only the presence here in the immediate future of Australia's Prime Minister with the other Prime Ministers will ensure that Australia's voice is fully heard. Moreover a meeting in April presents equal if not greater difficulties than one in December.

General Smuts is at present in this country. He could remain over for a December meeting, but he clearly could not leave South Africa again as soon as April and I understand that Mr. Mackenzie King too would find April very difficult. It seems therefore to be a case either of holding a meeting in December or of postponing it indefinitely which from the point of view of the British Commonwealth would be deplorable.

I am sorry to press you in this matter but I do it in the sincere belief that it is in the best interests of this country, of Australia, and of the whole British Commonwealth that there should be a meeting of the heads of the British Commonwealth Governments at the earliest possible date.

1 Document 310.