341 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 227[A] LONDON, 1 December 1943, 1.05 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET PERSONAL HIMSELF ONLY

Dominions Office telegraphing you urgently text of declaration [1] by the Prime Minister, President and Chiang Kai-shek [2] with regard to the Pacific which is being issued at midnight to-night.

The facts with regard to this declaration, which obviously should not have been published until you had had an opportunity of considering it, are as follows- The text was received here on Monday night in a telegram from the Ambassador in Cairo to the Foreign Office. Almost by an accident it was disclosed to the War Cabinet at Monday night's meeting by Sir Orme Sargent, representing the Foreign Office in Eden's absence. [3] It came as a considerable surprise to the members of the War Cabinet. The two points upon which anxiety was expressed were- 1. as to whether Stalin had been consulted and had agreed to the publication and 2. that while the specific restoration of territories in the case of China was laid down, nothing was said with regard to the restoration of their territories to other powers.

I took the point very strongly that the text should immediately be sent to Australia and that there should be no publication until you had had an opportunity of considering it. I also raised the point as to the position of ex-enemy territories in view of the statement as to no territorial ambitions which, although only binding the United Kingdom, might place us in an embarrassing position in view of our great interest in the islands of the Pacific.

There was general agreement that you should immediately be informed of the text of the declaration but it was felt that you should be informed by the Prime Minister and I was asked not to communicate with you until he had had an opportunity of doing so.

This morning a reply has come in from the Prime Minister asking that the text should be communicated to the Dominions from here and adding that publication has been arranged for 12 o'clock to- night. On this latter point the Prime Minister shows some signs of grace by saying that he 'fears' that arrangements have been made with the President and Chiang Kai-shek for this time of publication.

I am afraid there is nothing that can be done about the matter and apart from the question of principle as to consultation this is probably immaterial.

The press are being informed that the intention is for territories in addition to those of China to revert to their original owners and the handling of ex-enemy territories will not in practice be prejudiced by the declaration.

BRUCE

1 See Document 340.

2 Chinese President.

3 See Bruce's summary of this meeting, which took place on 29 November, on file AA:M100, November 1943. Bruce's view of the declaration was that it was 'in the right direction', but had 'a little the impress of the "big boys" dictating to the small ones'.

[AA:A989, 43/735/1016/2]