File No. 195.2/295
The Secretary of State to the French Ambassador ( Jusserand )
My Dear Mr. Ambassador: In acknowledging receipt of your note of January 161 I beg to repeat what I have already said to you orally, namely, that while we are pleased to have the opinion of your Government on the subject of ship transfers we do not think it proper to enter into a discussion of a question which may not arise.
The shipping bill confers certain authority upon the President in conjunction with those who will be associated with him in the matter of securing Government ships, but there is nothing in the bill which necessarily raises a diplomatic question, and there is no reason why we should assume in advance of the passage of the bill that the President’s course will raise a diplomatic question.
For this reason I have felt it my duty to decline to discuss this Government’s position in regard to the transfer of ships at this time.
You will remember that I suggested when this matter was first referred to, that our country had done nothing to give ground for a suspicion that it would disregard its obligations to other nations. And I added what I now repeat, that if, after the passage of the shipping bill, any action is contemplated to which any nation can or does make an objection, time will be given for the full consideration of such objection before the Government acts.