388 Department of External Affairs to Legation in Moscow

Cablegram 49 CANBERRA, 5 March 1948

Your 50. [1]

We assume that you will continue to do all that is practicable to keep our views on the Japanese Peace Settlement before the Soviet authorities as occasion permits.

2. We are naturally most anxious that nothing should be done to prejudice any chance that the Soviet authorities might suddenly change their ground, as they apparently did on the question of status of missions [2] and agree to participate in a peace conference with a composition and procedure on the lines we desire. At the same time we have necessarily had to give consideration to what might be done if it remains apparent that the prospects of a formal Japanese Peace Conference are remote.

3. We have considered putting forward the proposal that an informal Committee composed of representatives of those countries now on F.E.C. might apply itself to the preparation of a tentative draft peace treaty for Japan. Any draft on which the Committee might reach agreement would in no way commit any Government. In other words an informal group officials might see how far they can get without any formal voting or procedure in drafting a treaty.

If they found a large measure agreement the Government whom they represent might then be prepared to accept their draft as a basis of formal discussions. This committee would have no relationship with F.E.C.

4. Such a proposal cannot be put forward usefully to other governments unless we know first Soviet reaction. We desire you therefore to follow up your previous approach on the subject with this positive suggestion.

5. Such informal meetings would demonstrate whether or not in fact there are any issues which cannot be agreed upon unanimously and you will see therefore the connection between this suggestion on procedures and the approach you previously made to the Soviet.

1 Dispatched 13 February 1948; it advised that a response was awaited from the Soviet authorities to the Australian approaches.

2 The Australian and Soviet governments had agreed to raise the status of their legations at Canberra and Moscow to that of embassies.

[AA:A1838/278, 539/3]