Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with Ambassador Jusserand, of the French Delegation, December 5, 1921

The French Ambassador recalled to the Secretary the fact that M. Viviani had given the Secretary a memorandum prepared by [Page 87] Admiral de Bon with respect to the naval situation in France.76 The Secretary said that the memorandum was largely in the form of a narration of the situation rather than a proposal. The Ambassador said that it was M. Viviani’s desire to be associated with the conversations that were going on in connection with the question of naval armament fearing that some principle might be decided upon which would prejudice France when the matter was taken up with her later.

The Secretary explained that the sub-committee on naval armament was not meeting; that it seemed to be absolutely essential, inasmuch as only one step should be taken at a time, that the question of naval ratio as between Great Britain, the United States and Japan should be first determined; that it was of course recognized that there could not be a complete agreement until the naval armament of France and Italy had been taken up, but that the situation as pointed out by M. Viviani and the Ambassador in the case of France, by reason of the effects of the war, was a different one from that which existed in the case of the United States, Great Britain and Japan, who were in a position to continue competitive building; that nothing whatever could be done if these nations did not agree upon their naval ratio.

The Secretary pointed out that when this situation was developed it had seemed important to have informal conversations with the representatives of Great Britain, and Japan upon this point; that it then developed that Japan did not accept the American calculations; that thereupon it was arranged that there should be informal meetings between the naval officers of the United States, Great Britain and Japan for the purpose of examining the calculations; that these had been had, with the result that there was no important difference so far as figures were concerned, but it seemed to appear that there was a disagreement as to the taking into consideration the [of?] ships in the course of construction; that this was a very important matter to the United States for obvious reasons, as the American Government could not ignore what had already been effected in construction; this being manifestly a part of her naval strength.

As it appeared that the naval experts could go no further, their informal meetings terminated and the matter came back to Baron Kato, Mr. Balfour and the Secretary for another informal meeting to see if the matter could be determined; that this meeting had been had, and that while the Secretary was not free to state what had taken place, it was sufficient for him to say that he was waiting to hear further as to the attitude of the Japanese Government.

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The Secretary thus pointed out that there was nothing whatever under consideration which in any way militated against the interests of France and that as soon as possible the question in its relation to France would be taken up.

The Secretary took occasion to say that there was not the slightest reason for any feeling on the part of France that she was not being fully taken into consideration for while the Secretary could not state what was in contemplation he felt that he should say to the Ambassador in the strictest confidence that there were under consideration matters which he felt sure would be very pleasing to France and would dispose of any feeling that full regard was not being given to the interests of France. The Secretary hoped that within 48 hours he might be able to say something further to the Ambassador upon this subject.

  1. Presumably the memorandum of Nov. 19, p. 62.