Skip to main content

Historical documents

67 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram D348 LONDON, 7 March 1944, 10 p.m.


My telegram 18th February D No. 245, civil aviation. [1] His
Majesty's United Kingdom Ambassador at Washington has been
informed by Mr. Berle that if Australia, New Zealand and South
Africa were invited it would be impossible for the United States
Government not to ask Brazil and probably Mexico also. He outlined
the following proposals as an attempt to meet our wishes. Instead
of a joint discussion between countries concerned, conversations
between U.S. Government and representatives of U.K. and the
Canadian Governments should take place in Washington as bi-lateral
conversations between representatives of the U.S. Government on
one hand and of other two Governments separately on the other.

These would take place as far as possible simultaneously.

U.S. Government would ask Soviet and Chinese Governments whether
they would engage in similar bilateral conversations with U.S.

Government in Washington at about the same time. U.S. Government
would extend similar invitations to Australia, New Zealand and
South Africa, to Brazil and probably to Mexico and it would
probably be necessary to do same with Netherlands and French
National Committee (if a suitable formula could be found for
inviting the last named). Talks with Governments other than U.K.,
Canada, Russia and China would as far as physically possible be
simultaneous. The U.S. Government would keep each Government
informed of talks with the others.

The announced purpose of these bi-lateral exchanges of views would
be to pave the way for holding of a United Nations Civil Aviation
Conference at earliest possible moment at which it appeared that
there existed a sufficiently broad area of common understanding
among a sizeable nucleus of countries.

Mr. Berle said that the talks could begin about third week in
March and United Nations Conference before end of summer.

2. Mr. Berle emphasised that while this latest suggestion had
obvious disadvantages it was put forward in an attempt to meet the
wishes pressed by the U.K. Ambassador. The U.S. Government hoped
that they would at least be able to work out a basis for future
air relations with countries of British Commonwealth which could
be put into force even if contrary to their wish and expectation,
delay or difficulties should arise in conclusion of a general
United Nations agreement.

3. U.S. Government assumed that neutral Governments would be

4. We have instructed Lord Halifax to reply that proposal of
bilateral talks as described in paragraph 1 is unacceptable to us
but that we should have no objection to the alternative which
seems to be in Mr. Berle's mind namely, preliminary and
exploratory multilateral talks between U.S., U.K., Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands, French
Committee, Brazil, Mexico, Soviet Union and China. India should
also be represented and we think that Belgium should probably be
added. The reply goes on to say that we should be very glad to
meet the U.S. Government to this extent on the understanding that
nature of conversations as originally conceived has not been
changed and subject to question of venue.

5. Idea has always been to arrange exploratory exchange of views
with U.S. as preliminary to a full United Nations conference. We
can understand that it might be difficult for United States to
join in talks with all five British Commonwealth Governments
without bringing in other countries mentioned by Mr. Berle.

Solution therefore seems to be that we should have exploratory
talks as originally conceived but on a wider basis and that these
talks should be regarded as being preliminary to a full United
Nations conference, to be held at some future date.

6. As to venue Lord Halifax has been advised that we think it
would be inadvisable to discuss such a politically contentious
matter in North America during presidential election year. We
should prefer talks in London but can understand that this would
be unacceptable to United States. He is accordingly to propose to
U.S. Government that talks should take place in North Africa or

1 Document 52.

[AA:A989, 44/735/832/8]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top