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Historical documents

24 Cablegram From Spender to Watt

Cablegram, Ottawa, 1 November 1950


You will be aware from New York's memo No 1312[1] of 19th October of discussions which I have had with the State Department on the subject of a Pacific Pact and that Rusk had expressed a wish to see me on this matter before I left the United States.

2. On Monday Rusk and Dulles called on me to talk about the Japanese Peace Treaty and our desire for the United States guarantee of Australia's security. During a long discussion these two subjects were dealt with separately and there was no suggestion that a United States commitment to come to Australia's defence if she were attacked was a quid pro quo for the sort of Peace Treaty contemplated by the United States. I put to Rusk the same arguments as advanced by Hickerson in my conversation on 12th October.[2] Rusk argued against a formal Pacific Pact on the grounds that there were limits to the commitments which could be undertaken whilst exclusion of certain countries in the Far East would give the impression that these countries would be left to fend for themselves against Communist expansion. However Rusk did appreciate our position in that we are expected to make a contribution to global defence without having any voice in the determination of global strategy. He stated that Australia's position would be very carefully considered and the manner in which our security could be maintained would be explored by the United States. He explained that he was not (repeat not) able to make any commitment at this stage, but that one possible method might be for President to make a statement to the effect that Australian-United States comradeship which existed during and since the war was still a very strong link and that the United States would be concerned and come to Australia's assistance in the event of aggression or using similar words. He also spoke of the possibility of establishing some permanent United States-Australian machinery for military consultations which might lead to Australian participation in the determination of global strategy. The impression which I gained from Rusk was that the United States would genuinely endeavour to find a formula to meet our security needs. I have promised to let Rusk have a draft statement of the sort of remarks I might wish to make after my return to Australia on my discussions with the United States. Concerning Australia's security, Rusk's comments on my draft statement will be forwarded to you through the United States Ambassador in Canberra and I would like you to have them with you when you meet me in Sydney.

3. I made it clear to Rusk that when I spoke of a guarantee of Australia's security, I intended New Zealand to be included since our views coincide on this point. The State Department will doubtless inform New Zealand Embassy of their discussion with me and I have asked Officer to let Berendsen know the general scope of my discussion with Rusk, but he will not (not) refer to presidential statement nor to the draft statement mentioned in the last sentence of para (2) above. United Kingdom[3] in New York will be similarly informed, but in broad terms that the United States are showing a sympathetic attitude towards our security problem.

4. Please keep the Prime Minister informed and explain that I have not cabled to him directly since the discussions with Rusk are still in the exploratory stage. Rusk's reaction was more sympathetic than any I have had up to date and I am not (repeat not) without hope that the United States will do something to meet our position.

1 Document 21.

2 See Document 20.

3 A sign in the text indicates 'group apparently omitted'.

[NAA : A6768, EATS 77, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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