The Special Mission at Lausanne to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:15 p.m.]
278. In accordance with Department’s 117 of April 30, I explained yesterday to Ismet and to each of the Allied chiefs of delegation that:
- The United States is now prepared to negotiate with Turkey for a treaty.
- We will consent to sign the treaty only after the Turks have reached a settlement with the Allies, and after the conventions and the declaration have been drawn up to our satisfaction.
- That we are willing to take part in framing the foregoing instruments, and are disposed to conclude with Turkey agreements in the same or similar terms.
On the ground that the rules of subordinate committees do not permit participation by outsiders, Rumbold has objected to our presence at deliberations of the legal experts who are now laboring upon a definition of the status of foreigners in Turkey. He suggested that we could be of service in private conversations and by offering comments sometimes on the business of the principal committee. I reminded Sir Horace that I was present at the conference as a regularly accredited representative of the United States Government, and I expressed my belief that to have the American experts take a full and active part in the deliberations of the subordinate committee would be in the interest not only of the United States but of the Allies also. My arguments did not seem to move him, and it may be necessary to make representations in London after we have received the views of the other Allies. Some hours later, and perhaps on the strength of instructions from the Foreign Office, Sir Horace took exception to our beginning the Turkish treaty negotiations at present. He objected on two counts: (1) that by augmenting the labors of the Turkish experts, the business of the conference might be retarded; (2) and that an opportunity might be given the Turks to set the Allies at odds with the United States. To these objections I replied that we should make it perfectly clear to the Turkish delegates that we must conduct our discussions so as never to obstruct the work of the conference, and that we should avoid differences with the Allies by maintaining an intimate association with them. With this reply Rumbold professed himself satisfied.
Our program is cordially approved by Montagna. He told me he would not wait to consult the other Italian delegates before telegraphing [Page 998] to his Government for instructions to convey his official approbation. When he told me he supposed we would wish to have the Allies regularly advised of the course of our dealings with the Turks, I said that there was no occasion for secrecy. He also recounted to me for my private information how he had taken upon himself yesterday to suggest that the Americans be accorded a place on the committee of legal and drafting experts but had been met by objections from the British representative in the committee.
My exposition of our present designs was received courteously by Pellé. He said he anticipated no objection to our proposals although he would be obliged to refer them to Paris.
I was careful not to give any pledges to Ismet, during our interview last night, binding us to begin discussions with him. I stipulated that (1) he must settle with the Allies at Lausanne before we would sign with him; (2) the declaration and the two conventions must be framed to our satisfaction; and (3) the business of the conference must not be in the least retarded by our negotiations with Turkey. More than once Ismet signified his very earnest wish to conclude a treaty with us whenever we could reach an accord and with no reference to his dealings with the European powers. I made it plain that we could not adopt that course. He then enquired what our position would be if his negotiations with the European powers fell through. I said to him that in that case new problems might arise, and that we could not say in advance what our position would be. He declared jestingly that the formality of signing their treaty with the United States must be set for either a day earlier or a day later than the signing of the Allied treaty, as he must decline to discharge both offices on the same date.
Ismet asked how soon he might expect the presence in Lausanne of American representatives with full powers to negotiate a treaty. In reply I intimated that before we considered that point it might be useful to agree upon some fundamental principles of discussion. Ismet proposed that as a manifestation of willingness to proceed in the matter there should be an exchange of notes between us, whereupon I in turn proposed that, until we had worked out preliminaries satisfactory to both sides, we should confine ourselves to informal discussions. Ismet then suggested that I write him a note. I replied that as first expression of desire for treaty had come from him, I could not venture to interfere with his prior privilege of making definite proposal. He acquiesced and promised to send me very soon, in writing, his proposals for the nature and substance of our formal accord. I told him that we would carefully consider and duly reply to any communication he might make. I informed Ismet that I should advise the Allies of all developments. We were [Page 999] at one, however, in thinking that our transactions should be kept from general knowledge. I hope to hear soon from the French and Italians.