The Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received July 5, 12.11 a.m.]
2964. Will you please confidentially communicate the following from Dulles to Baruch, Davis, Lamont and McCormick who will arrive with the President.
“On the proposal of Clemenceau the Supreme Council has created an Interim Reparation Commission to inaugurate in an informal manner the work of the permanent commission contemplated by the treaty. The members of Interim Commission are Loucheur, Crespi, Peel, De Cartier and myself with [Mori] designated by Japan to act when questions entitling Japan to representation are under consideration. The first meeting of the Interim Commission was held July 3, Loucheur being elected chairman. It was decided to look into the matter of securing permanent offices to be occupied by the Interim [sic] Commission when appointed. It was understood that the Interim Commission could assume no financial obligations, but Loucheur stated that if the Interim Commission approved of the selection of permanent offices and if it were necessary to act at once to secure them, the French Government would be prepared to do so entirely on its own risk. The Interim Commission also decided to establish at once a secretariat which might be taken over by the permanent commission.
The Supreme Council has authorized the carrying on of informal conversations with the Germans relative to reparations, which conversations have already been invited by the Germans. The Interim Reparation Commission accordingly decided to confer with the Germans at Versailles, probably July 5th, to hear what the Germans might have to say and ascertain:
- The willingness of the Germans to supply labor to replace prisoners to be repatriated.
- The attitude of Germany toward the immediate restitution and reparation in kind required by the treaty and any suggestions of a practical nature the Germans might have to make relative to facilitating the performance of the treaty in this respect.
- The character of the proposals which the Germans intimate they are prepared to make relative to the restoration by Germany on a large scale of the devastated areas of France and Belgium.
- The requirements of the Germans themselves for minette ore.
You will appreciate from the foregoing that the reparation work is developing very rapidly and it becomes increasingly important that permanent United States representatives be here at the earliest possible moment. With the staff which is at present at Paris, and which is daily being depleted, it is impossible for me to deal adequately with the matters which are coming up for discussion and many of which are technical in character. Even were this not the case the present work should be handled by those who can be here permanently. Otherwise these latter will be at a great disadvantage and will find many of the most important questions of policy prejudged. We cannot well ask France and Belgium to defer consideration of these problems. Their interests are too great and their need is too pressing.
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