358 Department of External Affairs to Heydon

Cablegram 3501, CANBERRA, 12 September 1948, 5.40 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

Italian Colonies.

Please discuss urgently with Minister telegrams D.163 and 165 from Secro[1], which he may wish to discuss with Bevin or McNeill.

2. Australian statement of 6th August has already recorded our request for Minister or another representative to elaborate our previous views direct to CFM. This request is included in Deputies' report to CFM and should therefore, automatically be considered by them without any further move on our part.

3. In event of CFM agreeing to the request, it is suggested that we should not go beyond the general proposals of our statement to the Deputies. We have received little information since then and have not even officially received the Deputies' report. It would be preferable to concentrate on emphasising the responsibility of the CFM to approach the whole question on the basis of principle and to reach a settlement which pays full regard to the wishes and welfare of the inhabitants of the territories. If Minister not available, question of representation would arise. In view lack of time for briefing, written statement could be considered.

4. If the CFM do not consider our request or do not agree to it, our objections to the whole procedure could be made clear in a statement which the Minister might consider issuing from London. We would then be free to take a lead in the Assembly in pressing for a more detached consideration of the problem on the basis of principle and the light of useful information. In view of the probability that the CFM will merely confirm the disagreement of the Deputies, failure of an Australian Representative to appear before them would strengthen rather than weaken our position when the question comes before the Assembly.

5. Please advise the Minister's decision.

[1] In cablegrams D163 and D165, dispatched on 10 and 11 September 1948 respectively, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations informed Commonwealth governments that they might be invited to present supplementary views to the Council of Foreign Ministers on 13 September 1948.

[AA : A1838, 852/10/9, I]