500.A15a3/688: Telegram

The Chairman of the American Delegation (Stimson) to the Acting Secretary of State


60. A conference, in which all pending propositions between the two countries were discussed, was held yesterday afternoon, those present being the Prime Minister, Henderson, Alexander34 and Craigie for Great Britain, and Adams, Reed, Marriner and myself for the American delegation. It was shown, as a net result of the conference, that an agreement will probably be easy between Great Britain and ourselves, provided France or Japan does not interpose difficulties. With regard to the cruiser proposition, we are standing firm, while it is understood by Great Britain that, unless serious changes should be made in our proposal in other directions which would make it necessary as a counterpoise, the Rodney option35 will probably not be insisted on.

I have, in the private meetings of the chiefs of delegations, sharply, and thus far successfully, prevented any battleship discussion on the ground that, until we are assured that a general agreement in all the auxiliary categories is possible, the United States will discuss no changes in the Washington Treaty. I am, therefore, refusing to discuss battleship questions in the press and trust that, regardless of criticisms either in the press or in the Senate, the same policy will be followed by you in Washington. It is not my desire that I should be forced into a position where a battleship agreement will seem so easy that, even if in the auxiliary categories Japan or France remains obdurate, it will be difficult to avoid pressure for a separate agreement on the subject of battleships.

Tardieu’s first figures were received by the Prime Minister yesterday [Page 24] immediately after the interview with us, and later in the evening he stated that the high levels which they had suggested had somewhat discouraged him. Judging, however, from a private talk with Tardieu, it remains my own feeling that our cruiser figures will be left unchanged by eventual concessions from Tardieu. Japanese counter figures are expected today; we believe, however, that not until after their elections on February 20, will the Japanese come down to earth.

  1. Albert Victor Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty and member of the British delegation.
  2. See telegram No. 35, February 4, from the chairman of the American delegation, p. 13.