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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III

76 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

1 December 1941

My telegram of 30 November [No. 74].

The following is the text of a further telegram received last night from His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington:

‘1. Have seen Hull who tells me that the President will not decide anything in advance of discussions which he will have, it seems, on return to Washington, probably 12 noon, Monday. I will telegraph again as soon as possible thereafter.

‘2. Hull said it would, of course, be helpful if we could possibly get the Thais to invite us in, and also added that he scarcely supposed they would do this until it was too late.

‘3. Even if the President does not give an immediate affirmative answer to our questions and although prophecy is dangerous, I find it very difficult to believe that the United States Government would not support us in the event of hostilities; I know Hull, Stimson2 and Knox3 would wish to do so. There would be much less difficulty with public opinion over war with Japan than with Germany; and both public opinion and the Government are very sensitive about the Pacific position from the point of view of United States interests.

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‘4. The real question to my mind is how quickly the United States would join us. About that we may know more tomorrow.’

In a later telegram Lord Halifax reports that the Japanese are seeing the Secretary of State at their request at 10 a.m. today (Monday). Mr Hull does not know for what purpose.

2 Mr Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War, Jul 1940 – Sep 1945.

3 Mr Frank Knox, United States Secretary of the Navy, Jul 1940 – death, 28 Apr 1944.