811.7353b/93: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Harvey)83

256. Your telegrams 301 July 18, 6 p.m. and 329 August 1, 4 p.m.84

On August 12 the President authorized the Western Union Company to operate its Miami cable for European business. Recent reports from Ambassador Riddle afford reason to expect that communication will soon be received from Argentine Government which will enable Department make definite recommendations to the President regarding issuance license for South American Traffic.

Department informed British cable company operating cable from Azores to England refused to accept at Azores from Commercial Cable Company traffic for England, France and Northern Europe, reason assigned for refusal being efforts of Commercial Company to secure licenses in Azores.

Article 41 of International Telegraph Convention85 obligates signatory States to require cable companies to respect routing directions of cablegrams. Condition which Portuguese Government is inserting in proposed concession to Western Union would constitute violation of this requirement, Portugal being party to Convention.

At meeting of delegates to Communications Conference held at Department on March 9 [6?], 1922 attended by Brown of British Post Office Department, proposal was made in relation to plan for distribution of German cables that inasmuch as cable service to Northern Europe through Azores enjoyed by United States prior to the war was not being restored by the proposed settlement, the countries represented at the conference should urge Portugal to grant concessions for landing and operation at Azores of cables between America and Europe on reasonable and uniform terms. Agreement allocation of German cables has not yet been reached.

It appears from the foregoing that the British cable companies are declining to cooperate with American companies to relieve congestion in cable traffic resulting from interruption of North Atlantic cables; are pressing Portuguese Government to take action which places it in violation of international obligations and are disregarding and attempting to defeat a proposal which is an essential factor in negotiations which are under way among interested governments of plan for allocation of former German cables, a [Page 369] matter of serious international concern. It seems incredible that British Government should continue to support British cable companies in attitude entailing such consequences.

Please use foregoing in conversation with Lord Balfour. Repeat to Dearing for his information.

Telegraph whether Brown of Post Office Department is now in London.

  1. See penultimate paragraph for instructions to repeat to Dearing.
  2. Latter not printed.
  3. For text of convention, see P. E. D. Nagle, International Communications and the International Telegraph Convention (St Petersburg, 1875, Lisbon, 1908), Department of Commerce, Miscellaneous Series No. 121, p. 23.