462.00 R 296/18: Telegram
The Ambassador in Belgium (Fletcher) to the Secretary of State
[Received 7:22 p.m.]
116. This morning I was informed in strictest confidence by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the British Chargé had given him on Saturday a memorandum to the effect that the reparation question had been closely examined by the Imperial Conference and that everybody was deeply concerned over the seeming deadlock particularly because it was hoped that the abandonment of passive resistance would remove the hitherto existing insurmountable obstacles [Page 75] to united action and become the occasion for new and untiring efforts to find a solution to the problem which could no longer be postponed; that while the Imperial Conference was considering this phase of the case there came a declaration by the President of the United States that our country rested on its proposal of last December; that it did not seem to the Government of Great Britain or to the Imperial Government either courteous or wise to ignore, this renewed evidence on the part of the United States of good will and the desire to assist; they recognized, however, that it was; extremely undesirable to assume any indication other than that implied by the words of the President. Accordingly the United States had been approached, and they were pleased to note that the United States continued to feel a deep interest in the economic situation which obtained in Europe and was prepared to render any practical assistance in the way of promoting the recuperation and reestablishment of economic stability, that although the United States emphatically repudiated any desire to have Germany relieved of its war responsibilities and just obligations the United States was quite willing to join in an economic conference participated in by all European allies principally concerned with reparations and Germany’s capacity to pay and for elaborating a practical financial plan for obtaining payment. From the American point of view this conference should be advisory in character and its object should be to have appropriate recommendations made by an adequately informed and impartial group intent upon finding a solution to the difficult problems set before it on their merits. As an alternative the Government of the United States set forth that if it were deemed fitting that the proposed inquiry should be made by an advisory group designated by Applications [Reparation?] Commission to make recommendations it would be willing to have competent Americans participate therein. The Government of Great Britain did not deem it possible to ignore such a generous and helpful offer or to refrain from making it known to their Allies with the hope that the Allies would take careful note of the advantages to be obtained from the cooperation of the United States at this critical time. The Government of Great Britain believes that direct participation is so desirable and so likely to yield excellent results that it hopes that the first alternative will be preferred.
Fearing sudden negative reaction in France the Minister for Foreign Affairs at once instructed the Belgian Ambassador to state that the Government of Belgium deemed the matter worthy of the most careful consideration. However, he was unable to predict how the idea would be received in Paris.