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Historical documents

84 Cablegram From Spender to Dulles

Cablegram, Canberra, 16 April 1951


Pacific Pact
1. I have received your most heartening message of 13th April.[2] It is most gratifying that difficulties which you felt might have stood in the way of a three-power arrangement now appear to have been overcome, and that it has been found possible for a high level statement to be made at an early date. I need scarcely say that we are deeply grateful for the sympathetic consideration which has been given in Washington to our point of view and to that of the United Kingdom.

2. With regard to the text of the proposed statement by the President, I have no amendments of substance to suggest, and other possible verbal alterations seem too unimportant to put forward. You should assume therefore that Australia agrees to the text of the proposed statement which we interpret as preliminary to final agreement on the precise terms of a treaty along the basic lines of the Canberra draft.[3] I am contacting Doidge in New Zealand immediately and hope they will inform you that they take the same point of view.

3. In the last paragraph of your message you refer to some difficulties regarding Article 8 of the Canberra draft. We do not regard the point you mention as a vital matter, and you need anticipate no difficulty in our reaching agreement with you on matters which do not affect the basic substance of the Treaty. We will, of course, wish to see the actual text of any proposed amendments and to reserve the right to make counter suggestions. But I am completely confident that we can reach agreement on such comparatively minor matters.

4. The question of timing the Presidential statement is particularly important to us, and I would hope you see no difficulty in the way of such a statement being issued in Washington on Friday next 20th April, Washington time, at a particular time agreed upon between the United States, Australia and New Zealand. This would enable me to comment here before leaving Melbourne by ship at noon on Saturday 21st April Australian time. I shall contact Doidge immediately on this question of timing.

5. For your confidential information, I should add that during the consultations which have taken place between Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom on this matter, we readily agreed with the United Kingdom view that if and when an authoritative statement on this subject was made, we would co-ordinate the timing of comments or statements in London, Wellington and Canberra, making it clear that Australia and New Zealand had been in touch with the United Kingdom throughout our negotiations with you. For our part we would wish to add that any agreement with the United States on security arrangements in the Pacific in no sense implied any weakening in the ties between Australia and the United Kingdom. I am sure you will appreciate that it may be desirable to make some such statement in order to meet possible criticism, particularly in the United Kingdom, that the reverse might be the case. For this reason I am taking up immediately with London the question of such a statement being made on Friday 20th April, London and Washington time on the assumption that this date is satisfactory to the United States. Best regards.

1 Cablegram 161 to Tokyo.

2 Document 82.

3 Document 50.

Cablegram 631 (17 April) from Washington reported information given to the Embassy by Rusk that the United States Government had a strong wish for the Presidential statement discussed by Dulles in Document 82 to be issued at 4.30 p.m. on 18 April Washington time. The reasons listed by Rusk for the US Government's wishing to issue the statement on 18 April were (1) to lessen the impact of possible charges that the United States was interfering in Australian domestic politics in view of the election for both houses of Parliament to be held on 28 April; (2) to lessen the chance that the statement would be 'swamped' by the publicity surrounding Truman's having relieved MacArthur as the Commanding General of the military forces in Korea on 11 April; (3) to obviate a possible charge that the statement was being made as a defence against the statement to be made by MacArthur before a joint session of Congress on 19 April. Rusk also reported a change to the wording of paragraph 5 of the statement to reflect the wording of Article IV of the draft treaty agreed in Canberra.[1]

On 18 April Watt dispatched Cablegram 2201 to McCarthy in London (repeated to Washington, Wellington and Tokyo) asking him to convey to the UK Government the Australian Government's view that there was no alternative to its agreeing with the US proposal to publish the statement on 18 April. It added: 'We fully realise the possible inconvenience which this may cause in London, but feel confident that, in the above circumstances, London will agree to the proposed timing, even though it may be impracticable for Australia and the United Kingdom to exchange the actual texts of draft statements. For our part, we will transmit to London at the earliest possible moment at least the general lines of the Australian statement. I am flying to Melbourne immediately, where I will see the Minister, but our statement is unlikely to be completed in Melbourne before approximately 5. p.m. 18th April, Australian time'.

Cablegram 64 (18 April) from Wellington advised that the New Zealand Government had approved the new timing of the announcement but was requesting that the UK representatives in South Africa, Ceylon, India and Pakistan 'should advise those Dominions that New Zealand and Australia are endeavouring to negotiate mutual security arrangements in the Pacific with the United States; that the President will make an announcement earlier than was expected and that when negotiations are sufficiently advanced, we hope to let other Dominion Governments know what will be the probable terms of the proposed arrangement'. Truman issued the statement at 3.25 p.m. Washington time on 18 April.[2]

1 See Document 50.

2 The text is given in Current Notes, vol. 22, 1951, pp. 237-8 but the date of the announcement is incorrectly given as 19 April when it was issued in fact on the previous day.

[NAA : A1838, TS686/1, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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