Paris Peace Conf. 184.001101/14

Minutes of Meeting of the Steering Committee, July 24, 1919, at 2 p.m.

  • Present:
    • Dr. James Brown Scott
    • Colonel U. S. Grant
    • Prof. Douglas Johnson
    • Mr. Leland Harrison
    • Mr. J. F. Dulles
    • Mr. A. W. Dulles (Secretary)
Mr. Harrison reported that there was to be no afternoon meeting of the Supreme Council (July 24th).
Mr. Harrison reported that the Supreme Council had decided to inform the Yugo-Slavs that the Council’s order relative to the evacuation of Klagenfurt must be carried out. They were to be given a receipt for the arms and ammunition which they had captured and which were to be left in the possession of Allied officers.
The Committee discussed the desirability of recommending to the Commissioners a possible successor to Colonel Riggs who was returning to Paris from Klagenfurt. In view of the fact that the situation had materially changed since the President had sent Colonel Riggs to Klagenfurt to supervise the carrying out of the Armistice, the Committee did not deem it necessary to recommend any action to replace Colonel Riggs.
Mr. Dulles reported that the Financial and Reparation clauses for the Bulgarian Treaty would be completed on the 25th.
Dr. Johnson reported that the Yugo-Slav and Rumanian Territorial Committee had considered a number of proposed modifications of the northern frontier of Yugo-Slavia and had rejected all of the Yugo-Slav claims with one slight exception. The frontier between Yugo Slavia on the one hand and Rumania and Hungary on the other could now be considered settled as far as the territorial experts were concerned. It only remained for the Supreme Council to consider the report of the experts.
The question of the American attitude on the signing of the Bulgarian Treaty was discussed at length. The committee recognized that there might be some ambiguity in the wording of the President’s telegraph reply that the United States would be “Bound by the Treaty”. The specific statements of President to Dr. Scott, Mr. J. F. Dulles and others of the Commission that America would be a signatory power and would be bound by the Treaty, were however, in the judgment of the Committee, sufficient to permit the American delegation to proceed on the supposition that America would sign the Treaty. Dr. Scott agreed to write Mr. White a statement of his conversation with the President on this question during which the latter had told him very specifically that the United States would be included as one of the contracting parties and would sign the treaty. Mr. Harrison inquired whether the President realized in making this statement that he was reversing the attitude previously taken when he had instructed American representatives, in dealing with Bulgarian affairs, to be present at Committee meetings but not to take any active part in the preparation of the Treaty. Mr. Dulles replied that the President had stated very clearly to him that he realized that in deciding to sign the Treaty he was altering the position he had previously taken on this point. Dr. Scott added that in his conversation with the President he had pointed out to him the broader questions involved in the signing of the Treaty which the President had noted so that there could be no misunderstanding as to his attitude in the matter at the time he left for America.
Dr. Scott stated that Mr. Beer was anxious to proceed as soon as possible to the signing of the Convention regarding “Traffic in Arms” which was practically completed. Dr. Scott inquired whether in Mr. Harrison’s opinion this convention as well as the “Air convention”, which Mr. Lansing had taken with him to the United States, might not be signed with a provision regarding ratification or later adherence to the Convention as far as the United States was concerned. Mr. Harrison stated that as far as the Arms Traffic Convention was concerned he did not see why it could not be telegraphed in full to the United States as soon as completed and, if approved, full power issued the American Commissioners to sign it. As regards the Air Convention Mr. Lansing had doubted whether he had full powers to [Page 468] sign the Convention and in any case did not wish it to be hurried through until the American reservations have been carefully considered and The Convention submitted to the interested parties in America. Mr. Harrison saw no reason why it could not be signed at a later date and at the same time, possibly, as the Bulgarian and Hungarian Treaties.
The Committee decided to ask Mr. Dulles to inquire of Mr. Grew whether he could find time to meet with the Steering Committee. The Committee felt that Mr. Grew’s presence would greatly facilitate its discussions and its recommendations to the Commissions regarding the work of the American Delegation.

The meeting adjourned at 2:40 P.M.