Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram D1542 LONDON, 24 August 1945, 6.55 p.m.


The Council of Foreign Ministers is, as you know, due to meet on 10th September. Questions which it is likely to discuss raise issues of grave importance, not only as regards Europe, but as regards the world as a whole, and the future stability of the peace. For instance, the settlement of the peace treaty with Italy involves the future of the Italian colonial empire, and this in its turn is linked with the question of the Mediterranean and the Middle East generally. In addition, the question of Trieste is vital to trade from the point of view of access to central Europe.

Moreover, it seems clear that Far Eastern problems will necessarily have to come before the Council.

A sound solution of these problems is as vital for other Commonwealth countries as for the United Kingdom, and I am anxious, therefore, that there should be the fullest and most effective consultation between us, in the hope that on all major issues at any rate we may succeed in establishing an identical point of view. This is the more necessary, in view of the indications which the Russians more especially have given of their probable attitude. By their statements at the Berlin Conference they have shown disturbing signs of wishing to expand their influence, both in the Mediterranean and the Middle East (for example, they may well lay claim to trusteeship over one of the Italian colonies in Africa), and it is evident from their actions that they intend to expand in the Far East. The United States, on the other hand, though not in sympathy with the Russian attitude, cannot be relied on to press their opposition, except where their own interests are obviously and directly involved.

The close and vital interest of the Dominions in issues of the kind referred to is plain, and, we, for our part, think that this should be recognised by the admission of Dominion representatives to participate in meetings of the Council when they are discussed.

We shall do our utmost to secure this under the appropriate provision of the Council’s constitution, but cannot, of course, guarantee that we shall be able to carry the other members of the Council with us, and we see no hope of arranging this specifically in advance of the meeting.

Having regard to the essential importance to each of us of the issues involved, we should like to ensure closer consultation between us on these matters than is possible by the normal channels of telegraphic communication, especially at a time when immediate decisions may have to be reached. We will, of course, keep you fully informed, both of our views and of developments and shall welcome your comments on these, but we should hope that, particularly having in view the possibility of Dominion participation in the Council meetings as explained above, you would find it possible to arrange for current and continuous personal discussion as well while the Council is sitting.

The most valuable course of all would naturally be if you and the other Prime Ministers felt able to come to London for this purpose and we should greatly welcome this if it were feasible. We recognise, however, the great difficulties which this may involve for you. If, in view of these, you could not arrange to come yourself, could you designate some special representative fully conversant with your views and able to speak with authority on your behalf.

I should be grateful for your views upon this at the earliest possible date. I much regret having to raise such a proposal at such short notice, but the recent course of events and the magnitude and significance of the issues with which we are faced have convinced me that it is only by some such personal contacts that we can hope to safeguard the interests which affect us each and all so vitally.


[AA : A3195, 1945, FOLDER, TOP SECRET, INWARDS FROM SECRETARY OF STATE. D1157-3/7/45 TO D2033-2/11/45, I.27426/68]