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76 Message From Gordon Walker to Spender

Message, 2 April 1951


Message[1] for Mr. Spender from Mr. Gordon Walker
I asked Mr. Harrison when he gave me your message[2] on the 22nd March to convey to you my thanks for it. I promised that it would be studied urgently but I explained that the intervention of Easter made it impossible to deal with it immediately.

2. I feel, as I am sure you do too, that the messages which have been exchanged between us have been of the greatest help and value. In particular, we are most grateful for the very full background of the Australian point of view which you have given me in your latest message.

3. On the questions raised in my message[3] of the 13th March to Mr. Menzies, I am glad to note your strong feeling that the vital interests of the British Commonwealth, as a whole, will not be damaged by the proposed Pact but will, on the contrary, be strengthened. I much appreciate also your readiness to fall in with our suggestion that you and the New Zealand Government should join with us in making public statements at the appropriate time, emphasising this aspect of the Pact.

4. The Philippines still remains a difficulty. We fully understand the anxiety of the Australian Government lest any approach to the United States Government should jeopardise the whole Pact and we appreciate the reasons which you give for believing that there would be a serious danger of this. This is difficult for us since, as you know, we for our part feel strongly about the Philippines. We have, therefore, been giving very careful and anxious consideration to what you said on this point.

5. There has now, however, been a new development. The United Kingdom Ambassador at Washington reported on the 30th March that Mr. Dulles had asked him to call that morning. In the course of a discussion on the Japanese Peace Treaty, Mr. Dulles himself opened up on the subject of the proposed Pact and asked Sir Oliver Franks direct whether the United Kingdom Government had any views to communicate. Sir Oliver Franks was, of course, without instructions about this and explained accordingly to Mr. Dulles. Sir Oliver Franks then said that speaking purely personally, he had derived two impressions while in London which did not, of course, take account of recent interchanges between London and Australia and New Zealand. The first was that the United Kingdom was pleased that a Pact guaranteeing the security of Australia and New Zealand was in prospect. Sir Oliver Franks said that his own feeling was that the United Kingdom Government had no reservations on this. The second was that there was a good deal of concern in London about the proposed inclusion of the Philippines. This changed the nature of the Pact and while the United States anxiety to give a guarantee of Philippines security was fully appreciated in London, this immediately raised the question why other territories in the same area were being excluded. Mr. Dulles said that he fully understood that these were Sir Oliver Franks's personal impressions and not the official view of the United Kingdom Government and that he would give Sir Oliver Franks his own personal views in return. The United States Government felt firstly that it would be impossible for them to give a greater measure of protection to Australia and New Zealand than to the Philippines; and secondly that there was advantage in having a non-Western element in the picture. Mr. Dulles went on to say that he would like to talk the matter out with us on the basis of a complete review of our reasons for wishing to exclude the Philippines and the American reasons for wishing to have them in. He added that in the meantime he would have a study made to see if any formula could be found to cover the Philippines.

6. In view of this United States initiative we propose to instruct Sir Oliver Franks to explain our position to Mr. Dulles. We feel that it is clear that Mr. Dulles is very ready to listen to what we have to say on the Philippines and that we can safely let him know frankly what has been troubling us without in any way endangering the project as a whole. Our instructions to Sir Oliver Franks explain our position as to the Philippines on lines familiar to you. In addition they emphasise that he must be guided by the consideration that the early conclusion of a United States guarantee to Australia and New Zealand is of the first importance.

7. Like you, we are impressed with the urgency of this project and we are, therefore, most anxious that Sir Oliver Franks should act in Washington as soon as possible. At the same time we do not wish to take any action vis-a-vis the United States on this subject without your fore-knowledge. We have accordingly instructed Sir Oliver Franks not to act until 48 hours after the date of this message in order to give you time to telegraph to your Ambassador at Washington asking him to let Sir Oliver Franks know if you see great difficulty about what is proposed. But I greatly hope that you will not feel it necessary to do so. Sir Oliver Franks has also been instructed to keep your Ambassador and the New Zealand Ambassador at Washington fully in the picture.[4]

8. I am sending a similar message to Mr. Doidge.

1 Conveyed through the Office of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom, Canberra.

2 See Document 71.

3 See Document 60.

4 In Cablegram 1944 (3 April) to McCarthy in London, Spender indicated that he did not propose to send any reply on the substance of Gordon Walker's message either to Gordon Walker or Makin. Spender added that he still considered that 'there is serious danger of our position being prejudiced by a United Kingdom approach in Washington on substance of the subject'. He requested information from McCarthy on whether the UK Cabinet had yet considered the Australian and New Zealand replies dated 22 March to Gordon Walker (see Document 71 and note 4 thereto) so that Spender could telegraph Washington before Franks carried out his instructions, if that proved necessary.

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