500.A15/440: Telegram

The Chief of the American Representation on the Preparatory Commission ( Gibson ) to the Secretary of State

186. Preparatory Commission convened this afternoon. Cecil presented his draft convention outlined in my 176, March 14, 6 p.m.,26 with statement that this was merely a framework for discussion and that he would welcome alternative drafts from other delegations and proposed that any effort to reconcile them be made by special subcommittees. Paul-Boncour27 in conciliatory speech stated that he preferred beginning by general discussion of the reports of technical subcommittees but that under the circumstances he was prepared to adopt British method and would tomorrow or Wednesday press the alternative draft embodying French views and expressed his hope that the other delegations would present drafts and suggestions.28 The Italian delegate read long prepared statement to the general effect that Italy would not consider present armaments as a basis of discussion and that regardless of the forces of other European countries Italy would demand total strength equal to that of any other European country. Japanese delegate read a declaration in which he associated himself with Italian view that the armaments of each country must be settled entirely by that country. I took no part in the discussions aside from expressing satisfaction over the agreement to take British and French drafts as a basis of consideration and added that the generous manner in which the French delegate subordinated his preference in the method of work was a good augury for future success.

There is no work before the Preparatory Commission until the French draft is made available but a meeting will be held tomorrow merely because of the fear which was openly expressed that failure to hold a meeting might have an unfortunate effect upon public opinion.

  1. Not printed; see telegram No. 57 from the Ambassador in Great Britain, supra.
  2. French delegate on the Commission.
  3. The texts of the British and French drafts are printed in Great Britain, Cmd. 2888, Miscellaneous No. 4 (1927): Report of the British Representative to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.