The Chairman of the American Delegation ( Stimson ) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received February 16—4:20 p.m.38]
67. For the President and the Acting Secretary of State. Your telegrams No. 103, February 14, noon,38a and No. 106, February 14, 7 p.m.38b At present we are in the center of discussions, and three of us by invitation have been sitting in on the negotiations between France and Great Britain for two days. It is our belief that they intend to agree eventually, although on the cruiser question they are still somewhat apart, have not yet reached submarines, and are making counter declarations as to the impossible positions occupied by each other. Great optimism is felt by Morrow, who is familiar with French methods.
We shall meet the Japanese delegation on Monday to make clear our position (1) against any change of the big cruiser ratio, and (2) that, unless a successful treaty covering all auxiliary vessels is negotiated, the Washington battleship treaty should not be modified. We have reason to believe that it is time to communicate these positions directly, even though it has already been done indirectly. An interlude for the above to sink in over the Japanese election day will then probably occur. The Japanese, we feel, have no case for the modification of the Washington ratio in regard to cruisers and no existing construction or program on which to base it, as opposed to the French who have a pretty good case for modification of the Washington ratio. The situation in regard to Japanese submarines is different, and we would desire a compromise which would reduce both sides by 1936. Negotiations, however, are rendered delicate and difficult by the Japanese political situation.
The position of Italy is one of sitting silent on the sidelines; and keeping on friendly personal terms with her delegation is all that we are doing. My new form of treaty with a speech in support of it is being held in reserve; if the time comes when it seems that it will bridge a final gap it is to be used.
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It is not believed by any of us that the Conference will fail. Three causes are delaying its progress: first, the inability of MacDonald to delegate and organize his work; second, the enforced absences every week of Tardieu in Paris; and third, the elections in Japan referred [Page 27] to above. The American delegation is well organized and, whenever it did not seem to cost too much on account of apparent eagerness, has taken the initiative. We are as cordial and united as ever, and more helpful and loyal support has never been given a chairman.