50 D'Alton to Evatt Dispatch 44/1/7 EXCLUSIVE

WELLINGTON, 16 February 1944

I have the honour to refer to the American note [1] delivered to the Governments of Australia and New Zealand concerning the proposal contained in the Australian - New Zealand Agreement that a conference should be called of representatives of governments with interests in the Southwest and South Pacific areas.

2. From conversations with the Prime Minister, it is apparent that Mr. Fraser while recognising the cold and unsympathetic tone of the American note, has welcomed it as a sign at least that the Australian - New Zealand Agreement has caused some attention to be paid to the problems of this region and to the position of our two countries. His opinion is that it is to the advantage of Australia and New Zealand to have forced their views under the notice of the big powers even though those views have not met whole-hearted approval. 3. To the American diplomatic representatives here, the New Zealand officials have expressed the view that they cannot understand why America, which, together with the other great powers, has itself enunciated principles concerning the post-war world, should view with such a lack of enthusiasm a similar meeting and expression of opinion by two other members of the United Nations. If the great powers were unwilling to further define their post-war objectives, there was no reason, it was pointed out, why this should not be clone by other nations.

4. It appears from this distance that the American reactions to the Agreement were based on reports received from Canberra both from press and diplomatic sources. There seems to have been very little concrete and detailed criticism of the various points included in the Agreement except of Article 34, with its plan for a further international conference in Australia.

5. It is interesting to note that the United States Charge d'Affaires [2] here has apparently kept the Netherlands Consul- General very fully informed of their attitude towards the Agreement and proposed conference, and has even shown him copies of despatches from the American Minister in Canberra. Whether this is indicative of a definite American policy to discourage the Netherlands' Government from accepting an invitation to talks in Australia I do not know, but I have the impression that the American Legation has gone out of its way to keep their views before the Netherlands' representatives here.

6. The New Zealand Government informed you of their intention of notifying the United Kingdom Government High Commissioner in Wellington of the correspondence with the American State Department concerning the proposed conference. I am not aware whether you have been in touch with the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canberra concerning this matter but in Wellington Sir Harry Batterbee has shown considerable interest, not only in the Agreement but in the proposed conference. The views of the United Kingdom Government were, of course, conveyed to you in telegram No. 45 from the Dominion Affairs of 12th February [3], and I should gauge that the New Zealand Government, while recognising the somewhat cold reactions of the United Kingdom Government to the idea of a conference in Australia, would accept the conclusion reached in paragraph 12 of that telegram that the issue of invitations should be deferred until after the meeting of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. They assume also that without American agreement the holding of the conference would be impracticable.


1 Document 40, Attachment.

2 Prescott Childs.

3 Document 48.

[AA:A4231, WELLINGTON, 1943-44]