324 Evatt to Chifley

Cablegram 825 WASHINGTON, 21 June 1946, 10.12 P.M.


I had a long and satisfactory talk with the President yesterday.

Acheson of the State Department was present. First of all the President indicated his keenness as to the raising of the status of the two Legations to that of Embassy. He said this was a recognition by the United States of the greatly increased status of Australia in international affairs. He made a generous reference to yourself, Mr. Curtin and myself in this connection. I had explained to him our general attitude on the question of Manus and Pacific bases, keeping closely to the principle that while giving rights of uses in the various islands, it was equally essential for us that the United States should assume some duties of a defence character in the area. He said that a strict treaty would be difficult on the grounds that American obligations would be extended to an area far outside their present hemispherical sphere of influence, meaning North and Latin America.

I said that American obligations need not perhaps be evidenced by formal undertakings but by an informal statement of policy and, best of all, by making it clear that the defence of Australia and New Zealand and their territories was involved and not merely the defence of particular bases, such as Manus.

I told him that Byrnes had been apprehensive lest Russia should regard any reciprocal arrangements in the Pacific as directed against her. The President immediately replied that any undertaking would be of a purely defensive character and that Russia's objections on this point should not be given any consideration. He made it clear, however, that at present the discussions should remain tentative and informal.

We also discussed atomic energy and Security Council matters and he expressed great satisfaction at the co-operation now taking place between the United States and Australia in both bodies.

I was the guest of the Canadian Ambassador at Washington for luncheon. Lord Inverchapel was present and spoke to me about Indonesia. He was very critical of the Dutch and spoke admiringly of some of the Indonesians. He said that it had been agreed that the matter would be settled on the basis of the concession by the French to the nationalist movement in Indo-China. He said that the Dutch had gone back on this, particularly the Dutch in Indonesia, and had tried to betray Van Mook. He thinks the British should not remain in Indonesia after the Japanese have gone and that the Dutch should not be allowed to keep the Japanese there for the purpose of suppressing the Indonesians.

Later I had a conference at the State Department with Hickerson and representatives of the Navy and Army, at which Forsyth and McIntyre were present. The discussions were quite informal and I again made clear our attitude as indicated to the President, and also by you and myself in London. [1] A further suggestion, however, came out during the discussions, namely that without any formal treaty it might be arranged for the United States to use not only Manus but facilities in other Australian ports, providing the Australian services in turn were given the right to use United States facilities in United States and allied bases north of the Equator, which might include, for example, Truk, Guam and Manila.

Of course, if this were done, financial arrangements would have to be carefully considered, but it would appear clearly as a mutual defence arrangement of practical kind, showing to the world that the countries concerned, using common facilities in time of peace, would be almost certain to be working together in time of war.

I am sure the talks, particularly with the service people, were of value, and I may have something additional to report next week.

1 See in particular Documents 208, 213 and 235.

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