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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1465

Mr Garland asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   Has he announced that his Government's foreign policy is to achieve an independent stance; if so, does this mean that the policy towards the United States of America is to be different.

(2)   Did be write a personal letter to the President of the United States in December criticising the Government of the United States' policy in respect of North and South Vietnam and/or other matters.

(3)   If so, would it be most appropriate to describe this communication (a) as a personal letter to the President of the United States, (b) as a diplomatic note or (c) by another description.

(4)   If he did communicate with the President (a) what was the . date the communication was despatched, (b) on what date did he first publicly disclose it had been sent, (c) what was the method of its delivery to the United States and (d) was the Australian . Ambassador to the United States consulted before the letter was signed.

(5)   In view of the great interest by Australians in the relationship between Australia and the United States, will he ask for the agreement of the President of the United States for that letter to be published.

(6)   Has he received any substantive reply.

(7)   Has the Australian Embassy in Washington been given any indication of how the President reacted when he received the communication.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   It remains a basic objective of the Government to foster close and continuing co-operation with the United States on a basis of equality and maturity.

(2)   , (3), (4), (6) and. (7) I sent a personal message to President Nixon through the Australian Embassy, Washington, on 20th December 1972, expressing concern at the course of events in Vietnam. It was delivered to the White House on 21st December. The existence of the message became known soon afterwards and was referred to at my Press conference of 9th January. The matters raised in the message were discussed in Washington with the Secretary of State and with senior United States officials. The United States Ambassador in Canberra also discussed them with me.

(5)   No.

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