500.A15a3/63: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Dawes)


176. Our No. 174 was sent last evening after conference with the President in order that you might have as soon as possible our views on the immediately pressing steps relating to settlement of the preliminary questions between ourselves and Great Britain, and in furtherance of the Prime Minister’s note. Prior to our conference with the President he had talked with Mr. Myron Taylor and we appreciate importance of information received from him as bearing upon our own proposal, which will not be framed for bargaining purposes.

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We are in agreement with you that it would be unfortunate to have any publicity given MacDonald’s letter, and likewise to our reply, until further progress is made in settling Anglo-American questions that are suggested in this correspondence. It is our view that the questions thus under consideration between our two Governments cannot give offense to any of the other powers as they do not infringe upon interests of the latter, and also because it is evident that these powers expect us to make this preliminary progress with the British Government before taking up the subject with them. I saw the French and the Italian Ambassadors yesterday and told them that we were engaged in threshing out these preliminary questions regarding parity between ourselves and the British, but that nothing would be done which touched their interests. Both Claudel and Martino seemed perfectly satisfied. About a fortnight ago I made a similar statement to the Japanese Ambassador, and I shall probably see him again soon.

Our intention now is to try out upon our own naval experts the possibility of framing questions as to a technical yardstick in endeavor to ascertain whether such a method would be a useful preliminary to a general conference were such questions addressed to the experts of the other powers. President is impressed with importance of such methods, and it seems desirable thus to give it a preliminary test. You will be kept informed with regard to results.

Referring to your suggestion that Gibson go to Paris in order to set at rest any suspicions which might be aroused there, this would seem to me to be unwise as his journey there would imply that the French were being taken into a confidence not enjoyed by the Italians and the Japanese. I think that the wisest course would be, therefore, to allow the French, Italian, and Japanese Ambassadors in Washington and in London to know that preliminary conferences not touching their interests are in progress between ourselves and Great Britain, and that as soon as sufficient progress has been made to warrant taking up the matter with them, it will be done.

With reference to the foregoing there will not, of course, be any objection to having Gibson give the same assurances to his colleagues from the other interested Powers in Brussels.

Since the above was dictated your Nos. 186 and 187 have been received. You may make communication to the Japanese Ambassador which you suggest in second paragraph of your No. 187. The other questions presented in these cables will be answered as soon as possible.