91 Beasley to Chifley and Evatt

Cablegram 24 LONDON, 15 February 1946, 11.16 p.m.


1. A meeting took place to-day at the Dominions Office to discuss the future of the Italian Colonies. The United Kingdom was represented by Addison, Bevin and Creech Jones. Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were represented.

2. Smuts had sent strong telegraphic objections to the United States plan for joint trusteeship especially re Tripolitania. [1] He urged that to place Russia in a position of such influence in areas vital for the British Commonwealth Communications was dangerous under present conditions when the effectiveness of the Charter system is still so much in doubt. He also urged the importance of restoring Italy to full international status. On all grounds he therefore urged delay and reconsideration of the American plan.

3. Bevin said that the United Kingdom was much impressed with Smuts' views and would try to give effect to them. They thought the most hopeful line was to include in the Treaty with Italy [2] only a provision for the cession of the Colonies. The eventual disposition would be decided by subsequent conference after Italy's admission to the United Nations.

4. The South African representative supported this line and suggested that the Dominions should press it independently upon the United States.

5. The Canadian and New Zealand representatives took the same line. Fraser spoke particularly strongly about the importance of keeping Africa and the Mediterranean open.

6. I said that though the Australian Government had formulated no definitive views on this question and I understood that Dr. Evatt had been inclined when in London to support the American plan I thought there was great wisdom in Smuts' views and agreed that the British Commonwealth interests in the Mediterranean area must be preserved.

7. All Dominion representatives emphasised the importance of ensuring that the Draft Treaty should provide for cession to all active belligerents against Italy and not to the four principal powers only. Also that all active belligerents should participate from the start in eventual talks on the disposition of the Colonies.

8. Bevin proposes to prepare a memorandum setting forth the position of the British Commonwealth in relation to Africa and the Mediterranean and after getting Dominion views to put strongly to the United States a case for reconsidering the joint trusteeship plan. A copy of this memorandum will be forwarded as soon as available.

9. The general line was that the United States are making certain that in the Pacific no steps are taken to prejudice their own security. Nations of the British Commonwealth were entitled to ask for American support in areas vital to their own security.

1 The United States had proposed that the Italian colonies be placed under international trusteeship under the United Nations Trusteeship Council, each governed by an administrator appointed by the United Nations and assisted by an Advisory Committee composed of representatives of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Italy and the territory concerned.

2 The Communiquoof the Moscow Conference issued on 28 December had stated that representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union and France were to draft the peace treaty with Italy.

[AA:A1066, E45/19/5]