462.00 R 29/2704½

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the Belgian Ambassador (Cartier), May 3, 1923

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Reparations.—The Belgian Ambassador referred to the German note as to reparations, published in the morning papers. The Secretary said that he had just received the text of the note from the German Ambassador and the Secretary said that he would say in a personal way that it was of great importance that negotiations should be actually entered into and it seemed as though the note might be a starting point. The Secretary had noted in the proposal that it was evidently intended to initiate negotiations.

The Ambassador said that now that the Germans had actually made a direct approach he felt that it indicated an appreciation on their part that it was necessary that something should be done and he hoped that there would be some result.

The Secretary said that it seemed to him quite impossible to conduct negotiations between the two Governments in a public square, as the public on each side would find it very difficult to support their Governments in making concessions, and that he wondered if it were not possible for the French and Belgians and the Germans to find a practicable way of conducting negotiations to a point of a reasonable adjustment. The Ambassador said he felt that that was very desirable and he hoped that some such way could be found; that the Germans should pay and that there ought to be a solution found.

The Secretary said that he was informed by the American business men who had been in Europe that conditions were ripe for general prosperity, if this matter between France and Belgium and Germany [Page 62] could only be adjusted. Each party to the controversy could well afford to take a reasonable view because of the great advantage that would accrue to each as soon as a settlement was reached.