The Ambassador in France (Edge) to the Secretary of State
[Received 10:10 a.m.19]
245. Alvord’s telegram No. 242, August 4, 4 p.m. As indicated in telegram above referred to, I called upon M. Germain Martin, Minister of Budget, by appointment at 11 o’clock yesterday morning. I was accompanied by Mr. Armour, Counselor of the Embassy, and Mr. Carroll, representing the Treasury Department, who has been in constant attendance at the many sessions of the experts. There were also present M. Borduge representing the French experts and a French Government interpreter.
I endeavored to emphasize to the Minister the clear understanding Mr. Howell and Mr. Carroll had secured from M. Borduge in effect, that if Mr. Alvord would return to Paris with authority to initial a proposal approximately in principle similar to that already submitted as of June 23rd the experts could no doubt readily agree upon technical changes and would so initial in a final draft, but that in recent discussions with our experts since Alvord’s return M. Borduge had indicated a complete change of front and that it had apparently been found impossible to reach final agreement on article 10 and that a proposal had now been made to have the experts initial a procès-verbal representing their respective points of view in parallel columns.[Page 30]
I said that I felt that such a solution would be at best a makeshift and would make it very difficult for my Government ever to come to any agreement with the French Government; that by far the better method would be for our experts to work until they had found a common ground and to initial such a document as had clearly been planned when Mr. Alvord was sent back; that even if the terms thereto agreed were onerous I would prefer to present such a document to my Government than a vague set of recommendations representing the two points of view. I added that it was my opinion that the original wording of article 10 drafted by Professor Adams in the June 23rd proposal had I understood been in the main satisfactory to the French authorities and that I would undertake to endeavor to secure the consent of our people at home if there seemed to be any possibility of using it as a basis.
The Minister then intimated that he could not see any advantage in initialing any agreement if it did not carry with it the final authority of the two Governments. I of course explained that this was absolutely impossible and it had been our clear understanding that such assurance was never anticipated or required; that all that was sought at this time was an agreement between experts. A long discussion ensued as to the terms of article 10 as revised in the more recent conferences. As this discussion was getting us nowhere I then asked the direct question whether the French experts would initial the original proposal of June 23 which Dr. Adams took to Washington with such technical changes as the experts of both countries, as I was informed, had already agreed upon.
M. Borduge then stated that he was never satisfied with the June 23rd proposal. This is contrary to any view we had heretofore been given. (See telegram No. 189, June 23rd,20 prepared by our experts.) In fact Alvord, Carroll, and Dr. Adams have always taken the position that had they had authority to initial that agreement at the time of its preparation the French would have done likewise. In my judgment however this development well demonstrates that it is futile to undertake conferences with French representatives where technical considerations of a reciprocal nature are involved without the power to clinch adjustments or concessions on the spot of course subject to legislative approval.
Germain Martin and Borduge expressed to me their entire willingness to initial the revised draft approving articles 1 to 9 inclusive as prepared at the joint meetings of the experts but as to article 10 setting forth in parallel columns the divergent positions of the two delegations which differences Alvord is detailing in telegram20 reporting results of the final conference of experts yesterday.[Page 31]
In the meantime a telegram has been received by Mr. Alvord from Mr. Mills advising that he will return to Paris Thursday night. Of course shall endeavor to arrange to see him in company with Mr. Alvord and the other experts in order to further thresh out the situation.