127 Noel-Baker to Australian Government

Cablegram H30 LONDON, 20 January 1949, 9 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

Consequent on withdrawal of facilities by Governments of India and Pakistan, Netherlands Government have approached us with request for facilities for Royal Dutch Airline (K.L.M.) to use Mauritius.

2. We realise that grant of these facilities might be open to misinterpretation. We are, however, advised that under the (Chicago) Convention on International Civil Aviation we have no power to refuse Dutch request unless we at the same time prohibit operation of all other services via Mauritius.

3. There are at present three services (one United Kingdom, one South African and one French) which terminate in Mauritius and provide normal air communications and we do not feel that it would be possible to contemplate a complete stoppage of all civil air services to and from the island. But refusal to allow the Dutch alone to use Mauritius would be a clear breach of our commitments under the Chicago Convention. We are clear that we should not be justified in taking a step which could with justification be represented as a breach of international law governing civil aviation and which would set a precedent that might be of the most embarrassing character.

4. After careful review we have decided, therefore, to grant Dutch request but subject to prior undertaking from the Dutch that K.L.M. aircraft allowed to proceed via Mauritius shall not be allowed to carry either military personnel, arms, ammunition or warlike stores.

5. We are anxious, however, that you should have prior information of the action we propose to take and for the reasons for which we see no alternative to it. A similar message is being sent to other Commonwealth Governments.

[AA : A1838, 402/8/1/1/1, ii]