The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Harvey ) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 12—7:43 a.m.]
579. The President’s announcement received universal acclaim in the press this morning. The Times was the only paper which had it early enough by certain prearrangement for editorial comment and its leader is splendidly appreciative of the President taking the [Page 26] initiative so opportunely and strongly. Curzon sent for me this morning to inquire whether I could suggest anything which he might put before the Imperial Conference at noon which met to consider what Lloyd George should say. I could only reply that would seem advisable to confine his remarks to general approval without raising question at the moment of details as to time, place, et cetera, which would start immediate public discussion. He acquiesced in this view and spoke accordingly to the conference.
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Curzon sent for me again this afternoon and I have just returned. He requested me to ask my Government whether it might not seem desirable to seek an early conference with respect to settlement of Pacific and Far Eastern problems as an essential preliminary to the second conference designed to limit armaments. If so, certain practical considerations needed to be taken into account. Prime Ministers Hughes30 and Massey31 for example were obliged to return to their countries to arrive for the meeting of their Parliaments early in October. Six weeks would be required for this journey from here and no less for their return at some later date to Washington or any other feasible place after their sessions some time in the early part of next year. Consequently they were desirous that the conference should take place not later than August 15th. Furthermore, Curzon added it would be virtually impossible to hold the conference anywhere else than here or in this vicinity for the reason that both the Prime Minister and himself who would be the natural delegates are and will continue to be for some time overwhelmed by responsibilities of an imminent nature such as the Irish settlement, the Sidra [sic] difficulty, the trouble between Greece and Turkey and many other matters likely to arise at the Supreme Council which is expected to be convened about July 23rd.
The disarmament [conference] could follow in the ordinary course at Washington as proposed by the President at a time when presumably the Prime Minister and himself would be able to attend.
Such procedure had been very earnestly [urged?] at the Imperial Conference by the visiting Prime Ministers and his assertion is borne out by the fact that Prime Ministers Hughes and Massey last evening at Chequers implored me to ask my Government to so arrange the program that they would not be prevented from attending especially as their interests were in all essential respects wholly identical with ours.
This conversation was wholly informal and confidential, of course, but Curzon particularly requested me to obtain from my Government [Page 27] an expression upon his suggestion as soon as was reasonably convenient for the information of the visiting Premiers who I suspect are becoming somewhat impatient.
Curzon of course was in no sense insistent upon the adoption of his suggestion but he did wish me to transmit immediately the exact status of affairs from a practical standpoint without delay.