The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador.

No. 287.]

Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note No. 75 of the 7th instant and to thank you for the information therein contained regarding the line of policy which Sir Edward Grey proposes to adopt toward the Belgian Government with reference to the Kongo question.

You inform the department that it is Sir Edward Grey’s intention to request the Belgian Government to issue a declaration to the effect that, if the Independent State of the Kongo is taken over by Belgium, their first object will be to put an end to the forced-labor system which has been so fully described in reports sent by United States and British representatives in the Kongo State.

It appears from the information you have received from Sir Edward Grey that the Belgian Government have informed His Majesty’s Government that they recognize the obligations imposed by the Berlin act, but that they have not yet stated whether or not they consider the commercial monopolies established under actual concessions and the general commercial policy adopted by the existing government of the Kongo as inconsistent with the provisions of that act respecting freedom of trade.

You add that Sir Edward Grey proposes therefore to ask that if any difference of opinion should arise in respect of commercial as distinct from humanitarian questions the Belgian Government should agree to refer such differences to arbitration.

In response to these views, which you are so good as to make known to the department, I have the honor to state that the department has this day instructed by telegraph the American minister at Brussels to join in representations in the same sense as those proposed to be made by Sir Edward Grey.

I have the honor, etc.,

Elihu Root.