File No. 854.85/4

The Secretary of State to the Swiss Minister ( Sulzer)

No. 214

Sir: In your note addressed to me dated May 8, 1918,1 you refer to a plan for the purchase or charter by your Government of German or Austrian vessels lying in Spanish waters. You state that negotiations for such purchase, which had heretofore been temporarily abandoned, have now been resumed, and you request the adherence of the United States Government to the following proposition:

  • First: That the United States Government agree that the owners of the vessels in question may reserve the right to re-acquire the vessels after the conclusion of peace.
  • Second: That the United States Government will neither seize nor commandeer these vessels during the duration of the war and agrees to these vessels returning from Cette in ballast. You request, in brief, assurances that these vessels will be left entirely at the disposal of Switzerland and will be rendered all possible assistance to facilitate their operation.

In reply I have the honor to assure you that the Government of the United States, which has already striven at great sacrifice to itself to ensure the receipt by Switzerland of commodities important for the maintenance of the economic life of that country, gladly gives its approval in principle to the project which you outline in your note and to the two points specifically set forth above subject, however, [Page 1623] to the details of any agreement that may hereafter be entered into by your Government with reference to these boats being approved by this Government.

Accept [etc.]

Robert Lansing
  1. Not printed.