500.A15 Arms Truce/51: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

170. Third Committee finally adopted a resolution and report at midnight tonight after nearly continuous sessions all day outside subcommittee and full commission.

In accordance with your 130 September 27, 12 p.m. I made every effort to bring the French and Italians together and in the course of a public meeting when the tide of opinion seemed to be turning in favor of the Scandinavian resolution I pointed out the weaknesses of that resolution and urged not giving up the attempt to accomplish something tangible. The text finally adopted is the French text (see my 167 September 26, 8 p.m.) substituting for the words “new project” the word “measure” in the last paragraph.

In the course of the debate in subcommittee it became clear that the interpretation was in favor of permitting replacement and that it was impossible to curtail full exercise of this right by the truce. I mentioned the advantage this gave to other signatories to the London Treaty as compared with us in view of our inability under the truce to make new construction and their ability to make replacements, and added my Government would have to give careful consideration to this. This remark was included in the draft report of the subcommittee but I had it eliminated before it reached the full committee since in any case full liberty of decision rests with each Government. In the course of this debate in the subcommittee Cecil suggested that if this point caused us any difficulty he thought we could be given satisfaction in direct negotiations between the three interested powers and subsequently told me privately that he thought his Government might be ready to forego replacement for the duration of the truce and together we might request Japan to do the same.

The actual text is approximately the same as that to which you authorized me to give approval in your 129 September 27, 3 p.m.68 but the interpretation given to it is so little satisfactory that I did not make any commitment regarding our action at the time the vote was taken. I did not of course cast a vote in my “consultative capacity.”

If I may venture a suggestion I think you will want to have the text of the report (about six typewritten pages) before commenting to the [Page 464] press on this matter. The text and official translation will be available today when I will transmit by cable.

In favor of the document I can say that it should prevent surprises during the life of the Conference and that for this reason it will be felt to be of considerable advantage among the small powers of the continent.

It was provided at tonight’s meeting that the Council be requested to arrange a means by which the states can consider the replies of the other Governments after November 1st before definitely committing themselves.

The Assembly will consider the Third Committee report in its final session this morning.

  1. Not printed.