462.00R296/4367: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Belgium (Gibson)

46. Your 73, July 9, 11 p.m.70 The following is a memorandum of conversation between the Belgian Ambassador and Boal, referred to in your telegram, together with the confidential memorandum from the Belgian Ambassador on which replies were based.

[Here follow the texts of the two memoranda of July 8, printed supra.]

Mr. de Buisseret71 was present at this conversation and took down the substance of statements 1, 2, 3 and 4.

With respect to 2, the Belgian Ambassador asked if this matter had been discussed with the President, and Boal said that it had, but that the conversations, of course, were with the Department, and he would not wish any part of them attributed to the President.

The Ambassador said that he quite understood that it was in accordance with practice, adding “On ne découvre pas le roi.”

He was not told that this Government had taken any final position on the Belgian question. On the contrary, he was told that it would not wish to be asked to take a final position until after the London Conference.

If any further reference is made to May’s conversation with Boal, you should make it clear that, while the Belgian situation has been discussed in a general way with the President, he, of course, keeps an open mind on the matter, prefering that no decision be made here until after the results of the London Conference of Experts are known.

[Page 184]

[Paraphrase.] It is our opinion that you should do all that you can to facilitate direct conversations between Belgium and Germany. It would certainly make the Belgian position stronger in the London Conference if, as appears from your telegrams, the Germans themselves would be glad to come to some agreement with the Belgians on the mark claims. It is vital that we should not be put in the position of giving approval to the continuation of these German payments to Belgium which fall clearly outside the spirit of President Hoover’s proposal. However, if an agreement should be reached between Germany and Belgium and if it were accepted by the other Powers with the understanding that it did not constitute a precedent, I do not think it likely that the American Government would take the position of refusing what all other Powers had accepted. Of course this point refers only to the mark claims question. [End paraphrase.]

  1. Not printed.
  2. Count Francois de Buisseret, Second Secretary of the Belgian Embassy.