561 Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1406 WASHINGTON, 19 October 1947, 2.21 p.m.


Reference your South Pacific Commission.

1. Forsyth and Kerr saw Gerig [1] and Sady [2] yesterday 18th [October]. Discussed proposed November meeting and United States representation. United States officials will endeavour to obtain early decision. They foreshadow approval for United States participation. Consul-General Sydney almost certainly represent United States with assistance from Canberra.

2. However in view Assembly commitments and meetings Trusteeship Council and Caribbean Commission, United States is unlikely to send advisers from here. Nevertheless State Department Officials concerned maintain keen interest in and support of Commission and will now press the view that November meeting is necessary.

3. Gerig reiterated and emphasised that the United States could not designate Commissioners at this stage as nomination of proposed appointees before actual ratification may complicate process of ratification by deflecting Congressional attention to names of appointees. This might easily cause undesirable wrangle over patronage question and delay ratification. State Department is anxious to brief local representatives in Australia by earliest possible preparation of careful documentation and believes that United States can participate usefully on this basis.

4. Possible agenda items for preparatory meeting were discussed and State Department is to forward suggestions to United States Embassy Canberra. In addition to items mentioned in your telegrams State Department suggested discussion of whether Commissioners should be left relatively free of instructions from Governments or should be under constant and detailed instruction. United States in Caribbean Commission follows former practise but other Governments the latter. This does not help work of the Commission as Commissioners are acting on different levels and with different degrees of authority. The United States inclines to favour wider scope of authority for Commissioners though appreciates that some types of matters require instructions from Governments. They feel that the Commission should be an expert advisory authority, decisions should go forward to Governments only as recommendations. However United States officials feel that whichever view prevails it should be a common one and all Governments should accept it. This matter should be discussed at November meeting.

5. To assist State Department to prepare their brief, the proposed agenda should be cabled without delay. If possible the meeting should be postponed for one or two weeks to enable the State Department to prepare thoroughly. Gerig stressed this. It is clear he feels it impracticable to send an expert from here and consequently detailed written brief for Nilsen [3] will be very important action in fruitful United States participation.

1 Benjamin Gerig, Chief, Division of Dependent Area Affairs, Department of State.

2 Emil J. Sady, Non-Self-Governing Territories Branch, Division of Dependent Area Affairs.

3 Orsen Nielsen, US Consul-General in Sydney.

[AA : A1838,344/5/1]