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132 Evatt to Curtin (in London)

Cablegram 82 [1] CANBERRA, 5 May 1944


For Curtin from Evatt.

Reference telegram 63A [2] from Bruce on Future of French Colonial
Empire. I would make the following provisional comments-
(1) The general approach seems sound. Our policy favours
restoration of France and French Empire. In that respect we differ
from Smuts and the United States. The pledges in relation to
France are contained in documentation which I gave you. [3] They
are very comprehensive, and in some respects very specific.

(2) It is not altogether satisfactory to tackle the Post-war
settlement, country by country, e.g. Italy first, France second
and so forth. At the same time my view accords in many respects
with the document as summarised.

(3) Australia's primary interest will be in the Pacific. As to
this, the Australia - New Zealand Agreement [4] is an excellent
general guide. For instance, no separate commitment whatever
should be made to the United States in relation to Indo-China. The
specific problem should be embraced in one general settlement.

Australia's interests would be to extend the United States control
in the Pacific so long as it is North of the Equator, but that
means that giving up of territorial aims by the United States
South of the Equator, which is an integral portion of any new
arrangement covering such places as Indo-China or Japanese
mandated territories. This is the inner significance of the
Australia - New Zealand Agreement, the soundness of which is
becoming more apparent every day.

(4) With regard to the New Hebrides, I entirely favour the
extension of Australian sovereignty. The matter cannot be
determined now, however, but I believe Australia should at least
take over the British share of the existing Condominium.

(5) As to Indo-China, it would be a mistake to blame France
exclusively for Japanese advance into Indo-China. Indo-China went
because of the fall of France, the responsibility for which rests
upon many shoulders and more than one country. The contrast
between Indo-China and New Caledonia is striking. In the latter
case De Gaulle's [5] supporters saved the situation. In the former
case Vichy let us down. The case of Thailand is in many respects
worse than that of Indo-China. In my view there is a stronger case
for Allied supervision in Thailand than in Indo-China. It will
probably be found in the end that the status quo ante in Indo-
China will be the safest Post-war policy. One has to remember the
bitter hostility of some American interests especially the State
Department, to De Gaulle. This hostility tends to cloud a fair

(6) It seems to me increasingly necessary that there should be
subsequent discussions on these great international questions
after full consideration of the issues in question.

1 Sent through the External Affairs Officer in London.

2 Dispatched 2 May. On file AA:A989, 44/735/515.

3 See External Affairs Dept briefing paper 'Future of France'. On
file AA:A5954, box 647.

4 Document 26.

5 President of the French Committee of National Liberation.

[AA:A989, 43/735/302]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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