500.A15/464: Telegram

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

216. Commission in this morning’s session took up question limitation of naval effectives. After general discussion in which I briefly stated our position, the question was reserved as Cecil declared that he could take no further part in discussion until he received an answer to his request for instructions. While he in no way committed himself, this tends to indicate that he may go some distance in meeting French thesis.

Remainder of morning session and entire afternoon session devoted to discussion comparative methods of limitation of naval units by classes or by total tonnage. The majority of delegates set forth their views on the general subject without deviation from the position taken by them in subcommittee A. Paul-Boncour, however, at the end of a speech delivered with what seemed clearly deliberate moderation of tone stated that France might be prepared to envisage the publication of its naval building program within the total tonnage to be allocated to her. Having purposely refrained from speaking until after Paul-Boncour, I took occasion, after making a statement as to our attitude on this question, to observe that the suggestion made by Paul-Boncour and the general spirit of the remarks in which he had couched it, opened up most interesting and hopeful possibilities and that we should be glad to examine any proposal he might bring forward. Cecil expressed himself in the same sense and requested Paul-Boncour to put his suggestion precisely in writing. This the latter agreed to do. [Page 195] Marinis38a then said that as regards publicity respecting naval building programs he thought the pertinent provisions of the Washington treaty might afford a basis of agreement. He also will submit his proposal in writing.

These two written proposals will probably come before the Commission tomorrow and I shall then be able, if necessary, to ask for instructions thereon.

  1. Italian delegate on the Commission.