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40 Cablegram From Spender to Menzies

Cablegram, Canberra, 3 February 1951


[matter omitted]

2. Although you asked not to be bothered with cables, I feel I should let you know how things are developing here in regard to international affairs - particularly as I understand you may be out of touch aboard ship from 5th to 13th February.

3. Dulles has accepted our invitation to visit Australia and is due to arrive on 15th February. Precise details regarding his visit are not yet available, but we expect him to stay in Canberra and to remain three or four days. This means that we have to clarify our views immediately on the question of a Japanese peace settlement and any possible security arrangements in the Pacific. I am proposing to raise these matters for consideration of Cabinet, the next meeting of which is scheduled for 14th February. I have spoken by telephone to Doidge of New Zealand, who will be arriving here with two advisers for preliminary talks on 12th February. I will discuss main points involved with senior Ministers before Cabinet meeting. In addition, I feel that Cabinet should consider at an early date what is to be our attitude for the immediate future on the question of recognition of Communist China, including question whether we might not at some early stage withdraw our recognition from Chiang Kai-shek. In the determination of these questions, our relationships with the United States, the effect of any decision we may make on its public opinion and on the State Department (particularly in view of our desire to achieve some security arrangement in the Pacific) would need to be borne carefully in mind. I need hardly say that I would wish you to be here during discussions on these important matters, particularly in view of the discussions in which you participated in London during the Prime Ministers' Conference.

4. If, by any chance, you are unable to be in Canberra before discussions with Dulles commence, I should welcome your views on the abovementioned matters before you leave Colombo. I do not wish to burden you with unnecessary problems before you have fully recovered, but I think you will agree that the question of security arrangements and a Japanese settlement raises issues of the first importance to Australia in the future. My own tentative views are as follows:

[matter omitted]

(ii) Security Arrangements
As we may well fail to secure general acceptance of our policy on Japanese re-armament, it is all the more important that we endeavour to obtain from the United States some kind of guarantee of our security. It is my understanding of the London talks that the direct defence of Australia has, by implication, been left to the United States. It is essential to translate this somewhat optimistic assumption that the United States will come to the help of Australia into an effective and binding obligation. The extent to which the United States will be ready to bind herself in advance along these lines can no doubt be gauged accurately only after the forthcoming exploratory talks with Dulles. Our private information to date, from our own and New Zealand sources, suggests that Dulles may have in mind an arrangement not as formal as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It might be a declaration signed by Foreign Ministers of the countries concerned providing for the establishment of a Pacific Defence Council at Ministerial level and also for meetings of Deputies and military staff consultations. Such an arrangement might and probably would be limited to 'island nations of the Pacific', thus avoiding an American commitment in respect of mainland of Asia and South-East Asia. There has been some suggestion that parties would include United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Japan and possibly Indonesia. Another suggestion is that the United Kingdom might not be included save in a 'consultative' capacity. The problems involved are obviously complex, and I repeat that I would welcome your personal presence here in Canberra in dealing with them.

[matter omitted]

Apart from the actual form, I would welcome your views as to the best method of handling the problem of preventing the Americans from tieing us up indefinitely with Chiang Kai-shek. I am fully conscious of the fact that in considering any such move we may have to weigh the possibility that it might in some degree embarrass us in our efforts to secure some American assurance covering our security in the Pacific. The question of timing may thus be of considerable importance.

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