The Commission to Negotiate Peace to the Secretary of State
[Received 10.52 p.m.]
3960. Confidential. For the Secretary of State from Polk. The President’s memorandum to Bristol, see Department’s 2849, August 15 , 11 a.m., was brought up the other day in the conference and the French, misunderstanding the note, object to the United States Government communicating with the Turkish Government in the name of the Peace Conference. The matter was explained that the President was merely stating the views of the United States Government. In connection with this discussion Clemenceau stated that the French were not permitted by the British to send troops to Asia Minor; [then] Balfour immediately took issue and said they had no objection to the French sending troops and asked whether Clemenceau would send troops to Armenia. After two days the French came back with a proposition that they would send 10,000 troops for the protection of Armenia. The troops have to be landed at Alexandretta and Mersina. This to my mind is rather an attempt on the part of the French to get a footing in Asia Minor than a plan to protect the Armenians. I asked Balfour whether the British would consent to this very palpable attempt to get control of this section of Asia Minor and he said that in view of the fact that they were withdrawing and that we could not send troops he did not see how the British Government could object. The French insist that railroads and wagon roads makes the approach to Armenia quicker and less expensive than going elsewhere. The matter will come up Monday or Tuesday and I will be glad to know whether you object to this plan. Polk.