38 Makin to Evatt
Cablegram 52 LONDON, 19 January 946, 2.30 p.m.
On 18th January Addison called a meeting of British Commonwealth Ministers and Heads of Delegations to consider the question of bases set out in recent various cablegrams. Bevin attended and gave the backgrounds of talks with Byrnes and Molotov on the subject.
2. The view of Bevin was generally acceptable that now the Security Council was actually in existence it would be most unwise to start what might be regarded as a race for bases or negotiate outside the Security Council any agreement for bases as distinct from purely Air Transport bases. Your opinion that this issue was largely a try out was generally shared and Fraser had also obtained a firm impression that the State Department was divided on the subject.
3. The United Kingdom were emphatic that no commitment whatever had been made with the United States on any aspect of the question and that nothing would be done without full consultation with and the presence of the Dominion representatives.
4. Bevin made the interesting point that the Soviet Union were anxious to know whether the United Kingdom and the United States had reached any understanding or whether there had been discussions as to Japanese Mandated Territories. Stalin had also raised the question of freedom of Skaagerat to which Bevin had replied there would be a guarantee of this so long as Soviet Russia kept off any mention of bases.
5. Bevin said Byrnes had wanted to keep the Dominions out of any conversations but the United Kingdom had refused and eventually Byrnes had agreed with some reluctance to include the Dominions in any further conversations.
To this end Bevin suggested it might be advisable to hold an early meeting to discuss with Byrnes the list which the United States had submitted regarding the South Pacific to be attended by Dominion Ministers purely on an exploratory basis in order to exchange views and find out what the United States definitely had in mind and to ascertain clearly any difficulties in point of view without any commitment.
There was general agreement on this and Bevin indicated he would endeavour to arrange such a meeting during the period of this conference.
6. Would be glad of any views or comments you may have. In the meantime another Commonwealth meeting on the same subject has been called for on Tuesday morning next.