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72 Message[1] From Spender to Dulles

Canberra, 22 March 1951


Thank you for your message[2] of 16th March regarding the Japanese Peace Treaty. I greatly appreciate your readiness to consult ahead of the event in order to enable us to express our views; also your understanding of our special problems in Australia and your desire to avoid embarrassment to us.

2. In my view it would be psychologically bad if the terms of the draft treaty were to be published without any reference to the Security Pact. For this reason, I feel that some short postponement in circulation of the draft treaty beyond the 24th March would be more than justified.

3. The position with regard to British Commonwealth consultation on the Security Pact is as follows. The United Kingdom comments were delayed for some weeks, but were received on 15th March.[3] I immediately telephoned Doidge, expressed our views and arranged for New Zealand and Australia to consult before replying to London. Watt left for New Zealand on 16th March, and returned on 20th March. The views of both countries are being transmitted to London on the 22nd March.[4] There is, therefore, every reason why London should be pressed to give you immediately its reactions to the proposals which you explained to Franks. When you have received London's views, I should be glad if you would cable me immediately the final views of the United States, on receipt of which I will give you the Australian answer within twenty-four hours.

4. You will be fully aware of the Australian attitude from the talks in Canberra. I know that you will not misunderstand me when I repeat that our preference is for a tripartite arrangement of the kind drafted in Canberra,[5] the special position of the Philippines being met if necessary by a separate arrangement between the United States and the Philippines. Australian public opinion which would, with great enthusiasm, welcome such a three-power arrangement, would display some hesitation were the Pact extended to include the Philippines - particularly since such opinion may apprehend a further extension of any such Pact to include Chiang Kai-shek, an alliance with whose regime would be, from our point of view, impracticable. I can well understand and appreciate the considerations which have led you to the view that it is necessary for the Philippines to be invited to be a party to the contemplated security arrangement from the beginning. Whilst I would hope that the matter has not yet been concluded in the judgment of your country, I would like you to know that, whatever your final conclusion may be, I do not depart in any way from the views I expressed to you in Canberra.

5. With regard to the proposed explanatory memorandum, the text of which you were good enough to set out in your message of 16th March, I feel that, in spite of your clear desire to assist us, it would be preferable in present circumstances not to issue a memorandum along the lines indicated. From the Australian point of view the draft contains certain useful statements, for instance the first sentence and the last paragraph. However, the references to Japan's contribution to defence in accordance with 'collective security arrangements with one or more allied powers' could be misunderstood in this country. Again, the very strongly expressed argument that restrictions written into the peace treaty would prove ineffective, runs counter to official statements on the treaty made in this country and to a substantial body of Australian public opinion. For the time being, therefore, I feel it would be best not to issue the suggested explanatory memorandum, but to delay circulation of the tentative text until a revised memorandum can be issued containing at the least a sufficiently strong and clear indication as to the progress made and nature of discussion on a Security Pact or Arrangement.

6. The views expressed above have been discussed with your Embassy, which will no doubt give you any additional background information which they think necessary.

7. Once again I thank you for the opportunity you have given Australia of expressing its views and for the understanding of our special problems which you have continued to reveal. I am confident we are moving to a successful conclusion of the Canberra discussions.

1 Conveyed in immediate Cablegram 223 through the Australian Embassy Washington.

2 See note 4 to Document 68.

3 See Document 61.

4 See Document 71 and note 4 thereto.

5 See Document 50.

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