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161 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram M423 LONDON, 5 December 1941, 3.38 p.m.


Following for the Prime Minister:-

In view of President Roosevelt's attitude as indicated in
Paragraph 7 of my Circular M-412 [1] and confirmed by Para. 6 of
my Circular M-421 [2] and in face of the present Japanese threat,
we feel that we should now go beyond the previous oral assurance
given to the Dutch (my Circular M.295 of 6th September [3]). We
are therefore communicating with them today proposing a military
understanding whereby each party would undertake to co-operate
immediately to the fullest extent of its available resources in
the event of other party being forced to take military action to
repel an attack upon any of its territories in the Far East. We
are adding that we have reason to believe that our views are
shared by His Majesty's Governments in the Commonwealth of
Australia and New Zealand and that if the Netherlands Government
are prepared to enter into such an understanding with us we will
at once suggest to those Governments that they should also
participate. The text of the note will be telegraphed as soon as
possible. [4] President Roosevelt is being advised of the
communication which we are making to the Netherlands Government
and informed that we feel sure that he will agree that the Dutch
should from now on be brought fully into our discussions of
measures to be taken to counter further Japanese moves.

1 Dispatched 2 December. On file AA:A981,Japan 185B, iii.

Paragraph 7 described Roosevelt's attitude thus: 'in the case of
any direct attack on ourselves or the Dutch we should obviously
all be together'.

2 Dispatched 4 December. On file AA:A981, Japan 178.

3 On file AA: A981, Far East 26A.

4 See circular cablegram M427 of 5 December. In reply (cablegram
773 of 6 December) Curtin reminded Cranborne that the Commonwealth
Govt had always advocated a reciprocal undertaking with the
Netherlands. He approved the U.K. Govt's action and added that
Commonwealth air support had already been sent to the N.E.I. Both
cablegrams are on the file cited in note 1. War Cabinet minute
1533 of 4 December (in AA: A2673, vol. 9) indicates that co-
operation with the N.E.I. was to be further discussed with an
N.E.I. staff officer in Australia the following week.

[AA:A981, JAPAN 185B, iii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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