76 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 98 CANBERRA, 24 April 1945

IMMEDIATE TOP SECRET

Your telegram 597 of 12th April. [1] Possible Peace Treaty with Italy.

1. As you know Australian Government's preference has been to leave final decisions, especially on territorial questions, until ultimate peace settlement.

2. However, since this view was declared in Australian - New Zealand Agreement and our telegram 133 of 10th June, 1944 [2], We recognize that prospects of any early peace treaty with Germany appear to have become remote, that the complete liberation of Italy is near and that there may be advantages in not deferring an Italian settlement indefinitely. We would certainly welcome any encouragement which an improved status would now give to those seeking a firmly based democratic regime throughout Italy.

3. Without wishing to commit ourselves finally at this stage we therefore agree that the possible advantages of an early settlement with Italy might be further explored, providing (a) that some satisfactory arrangement is reached at the United Nations Conference for international trusteeship machinery which could be applied at an appropriate time to former Italian Colonies;

(b) that, as closely interested powers, the Soviet Union, France, Greece and Yugoslavia are not only consulted as to the principle of an early peace settlement with Italy but are associated from the beginning in negotiation of terms. [3]

4. In suggesting the above we have in mind mainly your proposal that the treaty with Italy should be final. On present information, however, we do not feel convinced that for the purpose in mind a final treaty has any advantages over a preliminary treaty as proposed earlier, and would welcome views on this point.

1 On file AA : A1066, H45/1013/1/9. It reported the resumption of discussions between the U.S. and U.K. Govts on an early peace settlement with Italy and invited other British Commonwealth govts to submit their observations.

2 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VII, Document 190.

3 Evatt subsequently advised Hood that he should not commit Australia to the viewpoint expressed here. He had consulted with Fraser and both felt their countries should move very slowly on the issue. Cablegram E33, dispatched 2 May, in AA : A3195, 1945, Folder, Inwards from Australian Delegation San Francisco (and London), 1.14556.

[AA : A1066, H45/1013/1/9]