Volume #17 - 517.|
COMMONWEALTH PRIME MINISTERS' MEETING, LONDON, JANUARY 4-12, 1951
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
November 21st, 1950|
MEETING OF COMMONWEALTH PRIME MINISTERS |
LONDON, JANUARY 19511
Mr. Attlee suggested that, in the announcement about the meeting, it be said that the Prime Ministers would "discuss questions of common concern including particularly all aspects of the present international situation". At the Prime Minister's suggestion, the words "particularly all" were omitted since it would clearly not be possible at a ten-day meeting to discuss all aspects of the present international situation. The Prime Minister has not yet, however, made any more specific comments on the agenda and you might wish to discuss with him the desirability of his sending some message to London on the subject.
2. Mr. Attlee's "tentative suggestions" for an agenda which he put forward in his communication of October 20 are:
1. International Situation
(a) Russia and Communist threat to peace.
(b) United Nations measures to preserve peace.
(i) Western European and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation developments.
(d) Middle East and defence of Africa.
(e) Asia. (i) China (ii) Korea (iii) Formosa (iv) Japan (v) South East Asia (Indo-China, Indonesia).
(a) Implications of United Nations Organisation obligations.
(b) Role of Commonwealth countries in resisting aggression.
(c) Defence liaison arrangements.
3. I attach for your consideration a draft of a communication from the Prime Minister to Mr. Attlee. This could be transmitted through Sir Alexander Clutterbuck.
Projet dune communication
du premier ministre
Draft Communication from
Top SECRET [Ottawa], November 21, 1950
MEETING OF COMMONWEALTH PRIME MINISTERS
I have already indicated to you, through Sir Alexander Clutterbuck, that in my opinion it would not be possible at the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers to discuss all aspects of the present international situation and that it will be necessary to select certain aspects of the international situation for discussion.
2. In order to make a wise selection of the aspects that might most usefully be discussed, it seems to me that we should first clarify our minds on the main purpose which meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers can serve at the present time.
3. The Commonwealth is today a most useful bridge between Western democratic states and Asian democratic states. There exist dangerous misunderstandings today in Asian democratic states about the policies and purposes of the Western democracies. Undoubtedly we in the Western democratic states likewise misunderstand certain aspects of the policies and purposes of the Asian democratic states.
4. It would seem to me, therefore, that meetings of Commonwealth Prime Ministers would be apt to be most useful if the discussions at those meetings were to concentrate on an effort to remove such misunderstandings and if the agendas were framed with this objective in mind. The result would be that the meetings would provide us in the West with an opportunity to explain to our Asian colleagues those aspects of our policies which we have reason to believe they do not entirely understand. Similarly the Prime Ministers of the Asian members of the Commonwealth would have an opportunity to explain their respective policies to us in an effort to remove any misunderstandings which we in the West may have of them.
5. The agenda might, for example, include an exchange of views on such items as:
(1) Developments in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and proposals for closer union of the North Atlantic Community.
(2) Developments in the Council of Europe and proposals for closer union of Western Europe.
(3) The United Action for Peace Resolution of the General Assembly and the future work of the Assembly's Collective Measures Committee.
(4) Policy towards Communist China (including questions of Korea and Formosa).
(5) Policy towards Germany.
6. From our point of view, these might cover the main questions in which the Asian members of the Commonwealth may not fully understand our motives and actions. The Asian members could, no doubt, draw up a similar list covering subjects on which they think we may not fully understand their motives and actions.
7. An incidental advantage of this approach to the agenda for the Prime Ministers' meeting would be that it would help to make clear that the purpose of the meeting is to create a better understanding by each nation of the Commonwealth of the policies of the other nations and that the purpose is not the unrealistic one of attempting to reach a common policy or to interfere with the right and duty of each member of the Commonwealth to take such action, either nationally or as a member of a regional group or of a collective security group, which it considers serves its own interests and the interests of the free world. Unless this principle is clearly established there is danger that the Commonwealth link might in time constitute an impediment to positive and fruitful international initiatives by the various member states.
8. I would hope that this principle of Commonwealth consultation would become apparent at the forthcoming meeting of Prime Ministers in a discussion, for example, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and of the proposals which are being made for closer union of the North Atlantic Community. The purpose, certainly, or any exposition which I might make of Canadian policy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would be to try to remove any doubts that may exist in the minds of the Asian Prime Ministers of our complete sincerity when we say that our objective is to preserve peace by deterring the aggressor and that our objective is not to wage war. I would also hope that the very nature of the discussion would make it clear that, while we confidently hope that our motives and our policies are not being misunderstood, we are under an obligation to pursue these policies even though all members of the Commonwealth may not feel able to give them complete support.
9. Similarly, the United Kingdom might wish to take advantage of the opportunity to explain its policy in respect of the Council of Europe and of the proposals which are being made for closer union of Western European countries.
10. I put these suggestions before you now because of my desire that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers should reach agreement as soon as possible on the agenda for their meeting. The sooner agreement is reached and the more specific the agenda, the easier it will be for the various governments to prepare for the discussions.
11. Since India is not now, I assume, interested in the question of the King's title, I do not suggest that this question be put on the agenda. I trust, however, that the meeting of the Prime Ministers in London will provide an opportunity to discuss this question since we desire to have an appropriate title for the King in respect of Canada adopted as soon as possible.3
1 Note marginale :/Marginal note:
2 Cette ébauche a été parafée par L.B. Pearson.
3 Dans une conversation avec M. Pearson, le premier ministre a
exprimé son « accord général » pour cette ébauche, mais il a refusé de faire
des observations à M. Attlee au sujet du programme.