272 Burton to Evatt [1]

Cablegram E91 CANBERRA, 3 November 1947, 2.45 p.m.


November meetings of Deputies and Council of Foreign Ministers.

You may wish to take steps to counter the somewhat defeatist attitude apparent in Washington. Point might be made that it is premature and dangerous to assume that game is lost before it is played; moreover, while it may be expected that Russian tactics will be obstructive, way to negotiation is still open and at this stage little or nothing will be gained by impatience. Bevin and Bidault are anxious that conference should not fail if only for domestic reasons, although French view is less optimistic than that of the United Kingdom. Following is summary of information to hand:

2. Reports from Washington and Paris on the one hand and London on the other indicate divergent views as to the prospects of successful outcome of Council of Foreign Ministers. In Washington Hickerson has told Stirling that he believed the chances of success were slander, although agreement on Austria was just possible. He referred to the possibility of a complete breakdown which would mean the end or at best indefinite adjournment of the CFM. In Paris Blakeney [2] has seen Minister directing European Affairs named Paris and reports that the latter is also very pessimistic both as to the Deputies and the Council itself, although he mentioned a 'hint that may mean that the Soviet may prove more amenable'. Paris added that the French will go to London with an open mind. Indications are that French recognise the necessity, in the event of a breakdown, of reviewing many present plans. This may be taken to mean that the French will be prepared to cooperate more widely with the United Kingdom and United States.

3. London reports indicate that Bevin and advisers have a more optimistic approach. Bevin told Beasley that if United States aid to Europe became a reality by the time CFM meets, he thought that Molotov will recognise facts. otherwise he thinks he may continue to delay in hope of further economic collapse in Europe. United Kingdom officials are working on documents and Heydon reports that general views remain as at Moscow conference.

4. Understand Deputies' agenda will be limited to (a) procedure, (b) provisional political organisation in Germany and other matters of relatively less importance, and that issues such as economic unity and reparations will not be raised until meeting of CFM. It appears likely that both the French and United Kingdom, because they will not wish to be thought obstructive, will be hesitant in supporting fully democratic procedures such as we have previously proposed. in fact the United Kingdom officials are still thinking on lines of associating other belligerents through system of committees which will leave CFM in virtually same predominant position as at Paris. Beasley will press the proposals stated in your personal messages to Marshall and Bevin of April last.

5. With regard to procedure, you may think it advisable that rather than rely on the United Kingdom or United States to press our proposals, we should press them independently. You yourself will be in London at the time of the CFM meeting but it may be that useful purpose would be served if you approached Vyshinsky while in New York and put to him frankly the view that the only way to tackle the German problem is on the basis of principle, and that if the minor belligerent nations were given their just rights in participating in the peace settlement, there would be greater likelihood of all participants approaching the problem with the idea of obtaining a just solution and, incidentally, a more objective recognition of the Soviet Union's own claims in regard to the Settlement. Such an approach would at least give us a check on Bevin's reports of unfavourable Soviet reactions to proposal for wider participation.

1 Evatt was in New York.

2 F.J. Blakeney, Second Secretary, Paris.

[AA: A1068, E47/15/12]