Australian Ambassador F. Rawdon Dalrymple yesterday cautioned the United States that it should not expect its smaller allies to act as if they were members of a sports team and "obliged to do the bidding of the coach or captain."

In a bluntly worded speech, Dalrymple made clear that Canberra's alliance with Washington "must have that basic element of symmetry even when the size and power of the partners is so disparate."

In his speech in Atlanta to the Southern Center for International Studies, Dalrymple did not mention New Zealand, the other major U.S. ally in the South Pacific. New Zealand's determination to bar U.S. nuclear-armed or powered warships from its ports has strained its defense relations with Washington -- which yesterday announced it was withdrawing security guarantees from New Zealand -- and weakened the ANZUS defense alliance that links the three countries.

Australia has pledged to continue a security pact with the United States, even if the alliance does not include New Zealand. But Dalrymple indicated that Australia does not see itself as obliged by the relationship to endorse all U.S. views on political and global issues.

Dalrymple said there is still a tendency for people in Washington "to speak and act as though allies were somehow like members of a football or basketball team, all with numbers on their backs."