Press Release of the Department of State, December 14, 1920

The delegates to the Preliminary Conference on Communications have today reached unanimous agreement in regard to certain important aspects relative to the general question of the disposition of the ex-German cables. While agreement has not been arrived at for the definite disposition of the cables, important principles were established to guide the Conference in its continued consideration of and dealing with same. There has been a recognition, on the part of all of the delegations, of the necessity of accommodating themselves as much as possible to the views and rights of other countries. While it is difficult in some cases to eliminate all difference, there appears a general recognition of the necessity and expediency of working out an equitable and practical solution of the problem. Some of the delegates felt that agreement of unsettled questions could be expedited if an opportunity was afforded for personal consultation with their governments. In order, however, that any possible delay might not prejudice the powers which at present have no part in the operation of the cables, it was recognized that some modus [Page 148] vivendi should be agreed upon which would outline the conditions under which the Conference should continue and under which the cables should be operated. With this idea in mind the following resolution was unanimously adopted:

“It is the consensus of opinion of all the delegations that it is most necessary, both from the standpoint of expediency and justice, that a definite agreement be reached for terminating at a very early date the present status of the ex-German cables and for an equitable distribution of ownership and operation thereof. In view of the fact that some of the delegates consider it necessary to consult their governments, it is agreed that the technical work of the Conference shall be temporarily adjourned. It is agreed, however, that the Conference shall continue its deliberations regarding the division and operation of the ex-German cables and that the delegates will recommend to their respective governments that the ambassadors of the respective countries shall as far as possible temporarily substitute those delegates who return to consult in person with their governments.

On and after January 1, 1921, and pending termination of the present status of operation under the protocol of May 3, 1919,25 the various ex-German cables shall be operated as at present, but for the financial account of the five powers, provided, however, that in accounting for such operation the income after deducting operating expenses shall be apportioned in accordance with the final disposition to be made of such cables.

It is furthermore agreed that the delegates will recommend at once to their respective governments that if an agreement is not reached by February 15th next for the final division of the cables, the Conference will immediately proceed to arrange an agreement for a new modus vivendi, to become operative on or before March 15, 1921.

It is understood, that the delegates will obtain and report at the earliest possible date the decisions of their governments on such recommendations.”

  1. See telegram no. 1159, May 15, 1920, from the Ambassador in France, p. 121.